Skip to main content

Full text of "Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture"

See other formats

Historic, archived document 

Do not assume content reflects current 
scientific knowledge, policies, or practices. 

Main Building of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. 








[Public— No. 15.] 

An act providing for the public printing and binding and the distribution of public documents. 

Section 17, paragraph 2 : 

The Annual Report of the Secretary of Agriculture shall hereafter be submitted 
and printed in two parts, as follows : Part one, which shall contain purely busi- 
ness and executive matter which it is necessary for the Secretary to submit to the 
President and Congress; part two, which shall contain such reports from the 
different bureaus and divisions, and such papers prepared by their special agents, 
accompanied by suitable illustrations, as shall, in the opinion of the Secretary, be 
specially suited to interest and instruct the farmers of the country, and to include 
a general report of the operations of the Department for their information. 
There shall be printed of part one, one thousand copies for the Senate, two thou- 
sand copies for the House, and three thousand copies for the Department of Agri- 
culture ; and of part two, one hundred and ten thousand copies for the use of the 
Senate, three hundred and sixty thousand copies for the use of the House of Rep- 
resentatives, and thirty thousand copies for the use of the Department of Agri- 
culture, the illustrations for the same to be executed under the supervision of the 
Public Printer, in accordance with directions of the Joint Committee on Printing, 
said illustrations to be subject to the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture; 
and the title of each of the said parts shall be such as to show that such part is 
complete in itself. 


Ever since 1849, when the report of the Department of Agriculture 
was first published in a separate volume, as Part II of the Annual 
Report of the Commissioner of Patents, it has been customary to 
issue large editions for distribution by Congress. Of the report for 
1851, 110,000 copies were printed, 100,000 of which were for distribu- 
tion by Congress. The original edition of 110,000 copies was grad- 
ually increased with the growth of the population of the country and 
the development of its various agricultural interests, until it reached 
in 1892 half a million eopies. The volume in the old form was made 
up of business and executive reports for the use of the President and 
of Congress, and such statements of the results of scientific work as 
promised to be useful to farmers. In the belief that a volume de- 
signed for such extensive distribution among farmers should be 
specially prepared for them, a provision was incorporated in the act 
of January 12, 1895 (printed on the opposite page), requiring that 
future annual reports of the Department of Agriculture should be 
divided into two volumes: First, an executive and business report, 
and, second, a volume made up of papers from the Department 
bureaus and divisions "specially suited to interest and instruct the 
farmers of the country." As the report for 1894 had been prepared 
before this act became a law, all that could be done last year was 
to separate the papers submitted and publish them in the new form. 
While it is hoped that the present volume is somewhat, of an advance 
upon the Yearbook for 1894, it does not fully come up to the ideal 
which the Department has set before it. 

The plan has been to prepare a volume consisting of three parts : 

(1) "A general report of the operations of the Department" dur- 
ing the year, by the Secretary of Agriculture. 

(2) A series of papers from the different bureaus and divisions of 
the Department, and from some of the experts of the agricultural 
experiment stations, discussing in a popular manner the results of 
investigations in agricultural science or new developments in farm 
practice. These papers are presented in the form of popular essays 
rather than scientific reports, and with the object of making them 
attractive as well as instructive they are illustrated as fully as possi- 
ble. The several topics have been treated in as thorough a manner 



as space permitted, but no attempt has been made to cover the entire 
range of subjects that would be included in a handbook of agricul- 
tural science. As the years go on, it is hoped that the Department 
will, in successive issues of this work, give farmers a good library 
covering the applications of science to practical agriculture. No 
systematic treatment has, however, been possible in planning for this 
or succeeding Yearbooks, and only such subjects have been taken up 
as have been reasonably well investigated and seem timely or suit- 
able for discussion. 

(3) An appendix. The publications of the United States Govern- 
ment having more or less bearing upon agriculture have become so 
numerous that an epitome of their more important contents has 
become almost a necessity. Scattered through the publications of 
the Department of Agriculture, for example, are many valuable data, 
facts of interest, recipes, and directions with regard to agricultural 
and horticultural practice, which it is desirable to bring together 
for convenience of reference. Accordingly, in the appendix to the 
present volume there will be found a large amount of miscellaneous 
information taken from the reports of this Department and presented 
with especial regard to the requirements of the agricultural reader. 
Statistics of agriculture taken from the reports of the Census, and 
much interesting information relative to the exports, imports, and 
per capita consumption of agricultural products from the publica- 
tions of the Bureau of Statistics of the Treasury Department, have 
also been compiled in convenient form down to the latest avail- 
able date. 

It has thus been sought to make the volume a concise reference 
book of useful agricultural information based in great part upon the 
work of this and other Departments of the Government, without 
making it an encyclopedia of general information. In brief, the effort 
has been to make a book, and not a mere Government report — a book 
worthy to be published in an edition of half a million copies and at 
an expense to the people, if we count both publication and distribu- 
tion, of over $400,000. 

Time and space have not been spared in the preparation of an index 
to the book, which, it is believed, will prove an efficient guide to all 
who consult it. 

Charles W. Dabney, Jr., 

Assistant Secretary. 

Washington, D. C, February 1, 1896. 


i Page. 

Report of the Secretary .. 9 

Soil Ferments Important in Agriculture. By H. W. Wiley 69 

Origin, Value, and Reclamation of Alkali Lands. By E. W. Hilgard 103 

Reasons for Cultivating the Soil. By Milton Whitney ._ 123 

Humus in its Relation to Soil Fertility. By Harry Snyder _ . . 131 

Frosts and Freezes as Affecting Cultivated Plants. By B. T. Galloway 143 

The Two Freezes of 1894-95 in Florida, and what they Teach. By Her- 
bert J. Webber.... 159 

Testing Seeds at Home. By A. J. Pieters.. 175 

Oil-Producing Seeds. By G. H. Hicks 185 

Some Additions to Our "Vegetable Dietary. By Frederick V. Coville. 205 

Hemp Culture. By Chas. Richards Dodge 215 

Canadian Field Peas. By Thomas Shaw 223 

Irrigation for the Garden and Greenhouse. By L. R. Taf t 233 

The Health of Plants in Greenhouses. By B. T. Galloway ... 247 

Principles of Pruning and Care of Wounds in Woody Plants. By Albert 

F.Woods 257 

The Pineapple Industry in the United States. By Herbert J. Webber 269 

Small-Fruit Culture for Market. By William A. Taylor 283 

The Cause and Prevention of Pear Blight. By M. B. Waite 295 

Grass Gardens. By F. Lamson-Scribner 301 

Forage Conditions of the Prairie Region. By Jared G. Smith. 309 

Grasses of Salt Marshes. By F. Lamson-Scribner 325 

The Relation of Forests to Farms. By B. E. Fernow 333 

Tree Planting in the Western Plains. By Charles A. Keffer 341 

The Shade-Tree Insect Problem in the Eastern United States. By L. O. 

Howard.. 361 

The Principal Insect Enemies of the Grape. By C. L. Marlatt 385 

Four Common Birds of the Farm and Garden. By Sylvester D. Judd 405 

The Meadow Lark and Baltimore Oriole. By F. E. L. Beal 419 

Inefficiency of Milk Separators in Removing Bacteria. By Veranus A. 

Moore - 431 

Butter Substitutes. By E. A. de Schweinitz 445 

The Manufacture and Consumption of Cheese. By Henry E. Alvord 453 

Climate, Soil Characteristics, and Irrigation Methods of California. By 

Charles W. Irish , 1 475 

Cooperative Road Construction. By Roy Stone. ._ 487 

A Pioneer in Agricultural Science. ByW.P.Cutter 493 

Work of the Department of Agriculture as Illustrated at the Atlanta Expo- 
sition. By Robert E. Wait.. 503 


Organization of the Department of Agriculture 523 

Statistics of the principal crops 526 



Exports of the products of domestic agriculture for the years ended June 

30, 1891 to 1895 543 

Surveyors' measure _ 547 

Imports of agricultural products for the years ended June 30, 1891 to 1895 .. 548 

Total values of exports of domestic merchandise since 1890 551 

Exports of raw cotton from the United States since 1890 551 

Production of certain fruits and nuts, mostly semitropical, in the United 
States in 1889, and the quantities and values imported from 1890 to 1895, 

inclusive 551 

Statistics of fruit and vegetable canning in the United States 552 

Average price and consumption of sugar __ 552 

Tea, coffee, wines, etc 552 

Freight rates in effect January 1 , 1892 to 1896, in cents per 100 pounds 553 

Freight rates on wheat from New York to Liverpool 553 

Freight rates (all rail) on live stock and dressed meats from Chicago to New 

York __ ___ 553 

The weather in 1895 . .. 554 

The Weather Bureau and its voluntary observers 555 

Texture of some typical soils . 556 

Educational institutions in the United States having courses in agriculture. 557 
Agricultural experiment stations in the United States, their location, direct- 
ors, and principal lines of work 558 

Feeding stuffs (for animals) 580 

Fertilizing constituents of feeding stuffs and farm products 566 

Fertilizing constituents contained in a crop of cotton yielding 300 pounds of 

lint per acre _ 569 

Analyses of fertilizers __ 570 

Barnyard manure 570 

Cuts of meats 572 

Human foods 573 

Methods of controlling injurious insects 580 

Preparation and use of insecticides 582 

Treatment for fungous diseases of plants 587 

Formulas for fungicides 589 

Erroneous ideas concerning hawks and owls 590 

Timber — lumber — wood 590 

Two hundred weeds : how to know them and how to kill them 592 

Distance table for tree planting .". 592 

Irrigation „ 610 

Number, weight, cost of seeds, and amount to sow per acre 612 

The metric system ... 614 

Notes regarding Department publications 616 



Plate I. Main building of the U. S. Department of Agriculture Frontispiece. 

II. Alkali lands m the San Joaquin Valley, California i 118 

III. Cocoanut grove near Palm Beach, Fla., showing effect of freeze 172 

IV. Pineapple plantation at Jensen, Fla 272 

V. (1) Early harvest blackberry, single wire trellis, Benton Harbor, Mich. ; (2) early 

harvest blackberry, Hill system, Falls Church, Va 292 

VI. Plan of irrigation by terraces and check levees 486 

VII. Furrow system of irrigating an orchard in California 486 

VIII. View of exhibit of U. S. Weather Bureau at Atlanta Exposition 504 

IX. Fig. 1.— General view of exhibit of Department of Agriculture at Atlanta Exposi- 
tion (right of main aisle) ; Fig. 2.— General view of exhibit of Department of 

Agriculture at Atlanta Exposition (left of main aisle) 516 

X. Fig. 1. — Monographic display of Southern economic timber trees ; Fig. 2. — Botanic 

display of Southern forest flora 518 


Fia. 1. Diagram showing progress of ni- 
trification in a solution seeded 
with soil ferments 99 

2. Diagram showing relation of tem- 

perature to rat© of nitrification . . 100 

3. Diagram showing amounts and 

composition of alkali salts at 
various depths in partially re- 
claimed alkali land on which bar- 
ley grew 4 feet high 107 

4. Diagram showing amounts and 

composition of alkali salts at va- 
rious depths in alkali soil on 
which barley would not grow .. - 108 

5. Diagram showing amounts and 

composition of alkali salts at va- 
rious depths in alkali land unirri- 
gated 110 

6. Diagram showing amounts and 

composition of alkali salts at va- 
rious depths in partly reclaimed 
alkaliland-, Ill 

7. Diagram showing amounts and 

composition of alkali salts at va- 
rious depths in bare alkali land 
where barley would not grow, 
irrigated 112 

8. Specimen weather map 147 

9. Sling psychrometer. .. 149 

10. Lath screen for protecting plants 

v from frosts 153 

1 1. Board screen for protecting plants 

from hot sun and frosts 154 

12. Board wall for protecting hotbeds, 

cold frames, etc., from cold 
winds 154 

13. Apparatusforsmudgingorchards. 156 

14. Apparatus for spraying orchards 

with water 356 

15. Protecting trunks of orchard trees 

from frost injuries by means of 
water sprouts 158 

16. An old orange grove killed down 

by the cold and throwing tip 
sprouts from the base of the 
trunk. The tops were cut off 
shortly after the second freeze.. 363 

17. A properly trained trunk 166 

18. An improperly trained trunk 366 

19. Kuby orange bud, put in May 21, 

on sprout from old sweet-orange 
trunk 168 

Fig. 20. 















Method of crown grafting old 

orangcstocks 169 

Buby orange graft on old sweet- 
orange stock, put in March 1 by 

crown-graft method 170 

Cleft grafting 170 

Simple germinating apparatus 181 

Homemade germinating appa- 
ratus 182 

Apparatus for germinating several 

varieties atone time - 383 

Cotton ( Gossypium barbadense) . . - 186 
Common flax (Linum usilatissi- 

mum) 188 

Castor-oil bean (Ricinus commu- / 

nis) 191 

European spurge {Euphorbia lathy- 

ris) 193 

Sunflower (ECeliantkus annuus) . . 193 

Madia {Madia saiiva) 3 95 

Peanut {Araehis hypogcea) 197 

Sesame {Sesamum indicum) 398 

Hemp* ( Cannabis saliva) 199 

Bape (Brassica napus) 200 

Opium poppy (Papaver somnife- 

rum) 203 

Charlock (Brassica sinapistrum) . . 206 

Chicory (Qichorium intybus) 207 

"Winter cress (Barbarea praecox) . 208 
Broad-leafed dock (Bumex obtusi- 

folius).^ 209 

Lamb's-quarters (Chenopodiuin al- 
bum) r . 210 

Marsh marigold ( Caltha palu&tris) - 211 

Black mustard (Brassica nigra) . . 211 

Pigweed ( Amarantus palmeri) 212 

Winter purslane (Claytonia per- 

foliata) 213 

Pea-harvester 230 

Pea harvester with platform 230 

Single concave thrashing machine 

with four teeth 231 

Square trough for distributing 

water (section) 236 

V-shaped trough (section) 237 

Irrigating young orchard with 

furrows 242 

"Water bench for greenhouse 246 

Violet cuttings from old wood 255 

Violet cuttings from mature wood. 256 
Violet cutting with insufficient 

stem 256 



Fig. 56. 







Ideal type of violet cuttings from 
mature wood 256 

Cross section of trunk of sassafras 
tree 258 

Trunk of maple, showing hole left 
by decaying limb 262 

Soft maple, cut back 263 

Oak tree from which some of the 
lower limbs have been properly 
cut and most of the iipper ones 
improperly cut 267 

Showing where a large limb has 
been cnt from a tulip tree 268 

Field of pineapples growing under 
shed, showing newly set plants 
and illustrating the methods of 
setting 270 

Field of Porto Rico pineapples at 
West Palm Beach, grown by 
open -field culture 271 

Instrument for marking a field for 
pineapples - 278 

Pineapple suckers 279 

Tan glo root of the pineapple 280 

Spot on the base of a pineapple 
leaf caused by the pineapple mite 
or red spider (Stigmceus) 282 

Grass garden at the TT. S. Depart- 
ment of Agriculture. Plat of buf- 
falo grass in the foreground 302 

Bouquet of grasses from the grass 
garden 306 

Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) 310 

Little blue stem (Andropogon sco- 
parius) 313 

Side-oats grama (Bouteloua curti- 
pendula) 316 

Big blue stem {Andropogon fur- 
catus) 319 

"White grama (Bouteloua oligos- 
tachya) 322 

Carrying salt hay to the stack 326 

Making the stack 327 

Completed stack , 328 

Salt-marsh grasses — the spartinas 329 

Salt-marsh grasses. sea spear grass, 
spike grass, large reed couch 
grass, brown -top, creeping fescue, 
and black grass 330 

How the farm is destroyed 334 

How the farm is regained 335 

How the farm is retained 336 

Bag worm (Thyridopteryx ephem- 
erceformis) 361 

Bag worm at successive stages of 
growth 362 

The imported elm leaf -beetle 365 

Orgyia leucoetigma 369 

Tussock-moth caterpillar. First, 
second, and third stages 370 

Tussock-moth caterpillar. Third 
and fourth stages 371 

Silver maple leaves eaten by larvaa 
of tussock moth 374 

Ichneumonid parasite of tussock- 
moth caterpillar 375 

Fall web worm. Moths and cocoons 380 

Fall webworm. Larva, pupa, and 
moth 381 

Fall webworm. Suspended larva 
andsection of web 382 

Phylloxera vastatrix. Leaf with 
galls, section of gall; egg, larva, 
adult female 386 

Phylloxera vastatrix. Hoot galls, 
with enlargement of same; root- 
gall louse 387 

Phylloxera vastatrix. Migrating 
stage, pupa, winged adult eggs, 
and mouth parts 388 

Phylloxera vastatrix. Sexed stage- 
larviform female, egg, and shriv- 
eled female 389 

Fidia viticida. Eggs and full- 
grown larva, pupa, beetle, injury 
to roots and leaves 392 

Fig. 99. Amphicerus bicaudatus. Larva, 
larval burrow, pupa, beetle (dor- 
sal and lateral views), and injury 
to youn g shoots and canes 394 

100. Saltica chalybea. Larva, beetle, 

injury to buds and leaves, and 
beetles killed by fun gus 395 

101. Macrodactylus subspinosus. Lar- 

va, pupa, beetle, injury to leaves 
and blossoms, with beetles, nat 
uralsize, at work 397 

102. Desmia maculalis; Larva, pupa, 

male and femalemoths, and grape 
leaf folded by larva 398 

103. Philampelus achemon. Young and 

mature larva, pupa, moth, and 
parasitized larva 399 

104. Ityphlocyba. Typical form, female 

and male — all allied species; 
larva, pupa, and appearance or 
injured leaf 401 

105. Eudemis botrana. Larva, pupa, 

moth, folded leaf with pupa shell, 

and grape snowing injury 403 

106. Catbird (Qaleoscoptes carolinen- 

sis) 407 

107. Brown thrasher (Sarporhynckus 

rufus) 412 

108. Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) . 415 

109. House wren (Troglodytes aedon) . . . 417 

110. The meadow lark (Satumella 

magna) 421 

111. Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula) . 427 

112. A, Microscopic appearanceof pure 

milk ; B, microscopic appearance 
of milk after standing in a warm 
room for a few hours in a dirty 
dish. It shows the fat globules 
and forms of bacteria 434 

113. A small milk separator. 436 

114. A vertical section through the 

bowl of the separator 437 

115. A, Milk containing tubercle bacilli ; 

J5, tubercle bacilli from a serum 
culture 438 

116. A, Microscopic appearance of a 

jpure culture of swine-plague bac- 
teria in milk; i?, swine-plagae 
bacteria as they appear in stained 
preparations from the liver or 
spleen of a rabbit ; C, in bouillon 
culture 440 

117. A, Hog-cholera bacilli as they ap- 

pear in ordinarily stained prepa- 
rations from cultures; B, when 
stained in a special manner show- 
ing their flagella 441 

118. Bacilli of anthrax. A, without 

spores; B, with spores 442 

119. A, Bacilli of typhoid fever; B, the 

same, stained by special method 
showing their flagella 442 

120. Diagram showing increase in 

cheese production, 1849-1889 453 

121. Diagram showing exports of cheese 

from the United States and Can- 
ada ■ 463 

122. Diagram showing influence of fat 

upon yield of cheese 470 

123. Irrigation by basins 483 

124. Irrigation by checks 484 

125. Irrigation by furrows 484 

126. Irrigation by moans of check lev- 

ees for orchards on sloping hill- 
sides 485 

127. Irrigation by means of terraces 

on steep hillsides 485 

128. Edmund Rnffin ; 495 

129. Diagram of exhibit of TJ. S. De- 

1>artment of Agriculture at At- 
anta Exposition 504 

130. Diagram of cuts of beef 572 

131. Diagram of cuts of veal 572 

132. Diagram of cuts Of mutton 572 

1 33. Diagram of cuts of pork 572 

134. Orchard-spraying apparatus — 586 




Mr. President: 

The Secretary of Agriculture has the honor to submit his Third 
Annual Report. It is a statement of the doings of the United States 
Department of Agriculture during the fiscal year ended June 30, 
1895. It will show wherein expenditures have been reduced for the 
sake of economy, and wherein they have been increased for the sake 
of efficiency. 



Meat inspection during the fiscal year increased and improved. The 
public demanded more extended and critical inspection in all the great 
cities where the larger abattoirs are located. Earnest efforts were 
made by the Department to inspect all animals slaughtered for inter- 
state and foreign trade. Those efforts, however, have been made only 
in the cities where United States inspection has been permanently 
instituted. At such killing places calves and sheep have been included 
in the inspection. 

The number of animals inspected at slaughterhouses during the 
year was 18,575,969. During the preceding year only 12,944,056 were 
inspected. This shows 5,631,913 more this year than last. The work, 
therefore, of inspection at the abattoirs during the fiscal year ended 
June 30, 1895, was augmented by about 43 per cent. During the same 
year, in the stock yards, ante-mortem inspection was also made of 
5,102,721 animals. 

By order of the President of the United States, inspectors were 
placed in the classified service on July 1, 1894. Since that time the 
number of those officers has been largely reenforced from the list of 
eligibles recorded in the office of the United States Civil Service Com- 
mission. All inspectors thus appointed are graduates of reputable 
2 a 95 1* 9 


veterinary colleges and have passed satisfactory examinations in veter- 
inary science before the Civil Service Commission. Therefore the edu- 
cational acquirements of the corps of inspectors are of so high a grade 
that meat and animal inspection must become of great sanitary value 
to consumers at home and to interstate and foreign commerce, provided 
State and municipal authorities intelligently and diligently cooperate 
with those of the National Government. If such cooperation fails, 
then the people of the great killing centers become the consumers of 
all rejected animals and meats. The protection of domestic health 
will be much improved when each purchaser of meats demands and 
insists upon that which has been governmentally inspected and cer- 

Had not the whole matter of animal and meat inspection better be 
relegated to State and municipal authority ? When and where will 
the duties of the Bureau of Animal Industry otherwise be defined and 
restricted ? And what will be ultimately the annual appropriation 
of money required to compensate its constantly increasing force of 
inspectors, assistant inspectors, stock examiners, and taggers ? 

But whether inspected by national or State authorities, the owners 
of the animals and carcasses inspected should pay for the service 
which confers an added selling value to their commodities. 

During the year this inspection cost 1.1 cents per animal inspected. 
The aggregate sum paid out for that service was $262,731.34. 

In 1893 inspection cost 4§ cents per animal. In 1894 it cost If cents 
per animal. 

This service has been maintained during the year at 55 abattoirs, 
situated in 18 cities. During the previous year inspection was con- 
ducted at only 46 abattoirs and in 17 cities. 


During the fiscal year 1895, 45,094,598 pounds of pork were exam- 
ined microscopically and exported, while during the year 1894 only 
35,437,937 pounds went abroad, and in 1893 only 20,677,410 pounds of 
microscopically examined pork were exported. 

And notwithstanding the agrarian protectionists of Germany, who 
have instituted by unjust discriminations every possible impediment 
to the consumption of pork and beef from the United States in that 
Empire, 29,670,410 pounds of microscopically inspected hams, bacon, 
and other cured swine flesh were exported directly to that country; 
while France, which is intermittently discriminating against us, took 
9,203,995 pounds of the same product; Denmark, 472,443; Spain, 4,752; 
and Italy, 3,630. Indirectly Germany and Prance probably received 
much more American bacon and hams than can be estimated from 
data at hand ; but the amounts set down for those two countries were 
sent directly to German and French ports, and can be verified by the 
records of the Department of Agriculture. 


Reciprocal certification of the chemical purity of wines exported 
from those countries to the United States may some time be demanded 
from the German and French Governments as a sanitary shield to 
American consumers, for certainly American meats are as wholesome 
as foreign wines. 

In the fiscal year 1895, 905,050 hog carcasses and 1,005,365 pieces of 
swine flesh were microscopically examined. This shows a total of 
1,910,415 specimens placed under the microscope. The cost of this was 
$93,451. 10. The cost of each examination was therefore 4. 9 cents. In 
1893 the same examination cost 8f cents per specimen, and in 1894, 
6| cents. 

The foregoing statement shows a reduction of 25 per cent in the cost 
of inspection in 1894, compared with the inspection in 1893; it shows 
likewise a reduction of 25 per cent in 1895, compared with 1894. This . 
inspection cost for each pound of meat in 1894, 2i~ % mills, and in 1895 
it cost 2 mills per pound. 


During the year 657,756 cattle were inspected for the export trade, 
and in 1894, 725,243. 

The United States actually exported during the fiscal year 1895 
324,299 head, hut in 1894 they sent out 363,535. This shows a falling 
off of exported cattle during the fiscal year 1895 of 39,236 head, com- 
pared with the year 1894. 

Out of all the cattle inspected, 1,060 were rejected during the year 
1895, while only 184 were rejected during the year 1894. 

The number of sheep inspected for exportation in 1895 was 704,044. 
The number really exported was 350,808. In 1894 only 85,809 were 
sent abroad. Therefore, there was in the year 1895 an increase of 
264,999 exported sheep. This increase is over 300 per cent. 

The foregoing statement shows that, taking cattle and sheep together, 
1,361,800 animals were inspected in the year for foreign markets. It 
also shows that out of that number a total of 675,107 animals were 
shipped abroad. 

Every bovine animal was tagged and numbered. Each number was 
registered so that individual animals could be identified. All the cattle 
T fere certified to be free from disease. 


Sheep, although healthy when exported, sometimes become affected 
with scab while on shipboard. Large numbers of sheep crowded 
together in a vitiated atmosphere are conducive to the speedy develop- 
ment of scab. In case any of the parasites of that disease are present 
the symptoms of scab are rapidly developed during the voyage. 
Flocks carefully examined and found entirely free from any symp- 
toms of disease at the time of embarkation are sometimes found 


badly affected with scab when landed. Prolonged and diligent study- 
has been given to provide measures to prevent infection with this 
disease. It is probable that some of the sheep are infected in cars 
which have previously carried diseased animals. Others are" infected 
in stock yards, while others may be infected in the ships themselves. 
It is evident that to guard against all these sources of infection com- 
prehensive regulations are required for the disinfection of cars, 
stock yards, and ships, and, furthermore, that inspection must be so 
rigorous and specific as to prevent the sale by growers and feeders 
of diseased sheep to be placed on the market. 


All vessels in the export cattle and sheep trade have during the 
year been thoroughly inspected by officers of the Bureau of Animal 
Industry. That inspection was made in accordance with the act of 
Congress approved March 3, 1891. Revised regulations have been 
issued embodying the amendments suggested by actual experience 
since that law came into vigor. 

The losses of live animals exported from the United States during 
the year have been heavier than usual. An investigation has there- 
fore been commenced to determine whether any part of these losses 
was due to noncompliance with the regulations of this Department. 
Great Britain found that out of the 294,331 head of American cattle 
shipped to England, a loss was incurred while in transit of 1,836 head; 
that is, 0.62 per cent, as compared with 0.37 per cent in 1894. 

The number of sheep inspected after landing in Europe was 310,138. 
There had been lost in transit 8,480 head — that is, 2.66 per cent — in 
1895. In 1894 the loss was 1.29 per cent. 


Stock yards inspection is to prevent the spread of contagious dis- 
eases through interstate and foreign commerce. Texas fever is the 
only disease thus far absolutely controlled by this inspection. The 
further development and improvement of its active force in the field 
will enable the Bureau to finally include hog cholera, tuberculosis, 
sheep scab, and other diseases in its examinations of domestic ani- 
mals in market. 


From February 15 to December 1, 1894, there were received from 
the infected cattle districts and inspected at quarantine pens 30,531 
cars of cattle. Those cars carried 826,098 animals. 

During the same period 8,958 carloads of cattle were inspected in 
transit, and 28,650 cars were cleaned and disinfected under the super- 
vision of inspectors. During the same time there were also inspected 
156,660 cattle from the noninfected district of Texas, which had been 


shipped or driven to Northern States for feeding purposes. The iden- 
tification of the branding of all those cattle was necessary. That 
determined whether they could be with safety grazed and fed in the 


Inspection to guard against Texas fever in interstate and foreign 
trade cost $104,492.46. Assuming that half of that sum should be 
charged to the inspection of export animals, the cost of inspecting 
675, 107 head of animals (cattle and sheep) exported would be $52, 246. 23, 
just 7.74 cents per head. During the preceding year the per capita 
cost, computed in the same way, was 10. 75 cents. The number of indi- 
vidual animals inspected in this country was 1,361,800, and 604,469 
were inspected in Great Britain. This makes a total of 1,966,269 
animals. Thus the average cost of one inspection for each individual 
animal was 2.66 cents. 



During the year the United States imported, quarantined, and 
inspected at the Garfield Station, in New Jersey, 142 head of cattle, 
23 swine, and 3 moose, besides 9 cattle from India; at Littleton, near 
Boston, Mass., 12 sheep were quarantined and inspected; at Buffalo, 
N. Y., 366 cattle, and at Port Huron, Mich., 1 bovine. Altogether 702 
imported animals from Europe were quarantined for the prescribed 
period and inspected. 


During the same period 293,594 animals were imported from Canada, 
but not subject to quarantine, as follows: 292,613 sheep, 908 swine, 48 
head of cattle, and 5 moose. 


From January 1, 1895, to June 30, 1895, 63,716 head of inspected 
cattle came into the United States from the adjacent Republic of 
Mexico. All of that number of animals were critically examined and 
passed upon by the employees of the Bureau of Animal Industry. No 
diseases were found among them. Their sanitary condition was, as a 
rule, most excellent, and their weights showed an improvement in 
breeding, while some animals were of very high grades. 

It is suggested that if the duty were taken off Mexican cattle it 
would be of great advantage to the grazers of Texas and the feeders 
of Kansas, Nebraska, and other Northwestern States which have a 
surplus of corn to convert into beef. Should these cattle be let in 
free of duty, it would certainly not enhance the price of steaks and 
roasts to beef eaters in the United States, who largely outnumber 
beef producers. 


Researches by the scientists of the Bureau, directed by Dr. D. E. 
Salmon, its chief, have during the past year yielded satisfactory and 
valuable results. Investigations are now in progress, the objective 
points of which have not yet been attained, though there is reasonable 
ground to believe that conclusions may be reached which will prove of 
great value to the growers and feeders of domestic animals through- 
out the United States. For specific descriptions of the investigations 
here alluded to reference is respectfully and confidently made to the 
Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry, which will 
record in detail the attempts to destroy Texas fever ticks upon and 
among Southern cattle by various insecticides. That report will dis- 
close the amount of tuberculin and mallein sent out, upon application, 
to the proper authorities of the several States of the Union during the 

fiscal year. 


The dairy division was organized July 1, 1895, withMajorH. E. Alvord 
as chief, with an assistant chief and two clerks. Its work for some 
time to come will be largely confined to the collection and dissemina- 
tion of information relative to dairying as carried on in the United 
States and some foreign countries. Original scientific research bearing 
upon this branch of rural industry will necessarily be postponed until 
proper foundations have been laid therefor out of the experiences and 
observations that at present are being collected. It is hoped that this 
division will prove of great educational advantage to the farmers of 
the country. It is not reasonable to expect from the division anything 
more than practical didactics. It is not the province of this division, 
or any other in the United States Department of Agriculture, to do 
more than plainly instruct people in the various branches of farming 
how to intelligently help themselves. 

During the fiscal year the Bureau of Animal Industry issued many 
reports, bulletins, and circulars which have been in great demand 
among the editors of agricultural periodicals and the intelligent farmers 
of the United States. 

The appropriation for the Bureau for the year ended June 30, 
1895, was $800,000. Out of that sum less than $533,000 has been 
expended. The balance to be returned to the Treasury of the United 
States will, when the year's accounts are finally closed, exceed $250,000. 


Cheap swine feed throughout the Kingdom of Great Britain during 
the past year caused a large increase there in home-fattened pork. 
The British farmer, even at the present low price of bacon, finds it 
more profitable to fatten hogs than to market beans, pease, and cereals. 
The number of breeding sows in Great Britain increased over 100,000 


during the year. That was an advance of more than 64 per cent. 
The number of other swine increased 430,314. This was an advance 
of more than 21 per cent. The total number of swine in Great Britain 
on the 4th day of June, 1895, is officially stated at 2,884,431. 

The British swine-flesh increase helped materially to depress the 
market for imported meats. Therefore prices averaged considerably 
lower during the year 1895 than in the year 1894. But the September 
prices of the year 1895 were not lower than those of the previous year. 
The Wiltshire packers, at Calne, England, are paying 9£ cents per 
pound for hogs on foot not exceeding 150 pounds in weight and not 
carrying more than 2-J- inches of fat on the back. Heavier weight hogs 
bring smaller prices. English packers invariably pay a premium 
for swine precisely adapted to making the kind of bacon most in 
demand — that is to say, lean, thin, and mildly cured. The call for 
this sort of meat throughout Great Britain has caused a change in 
the breeding of swine throughout almost the entire realm. The Tam- 
worth hog is now in more request than the Berkshire, Essex, or any 
other established breed. The farmers and packers of the United 
States must study and cater to foreign desire and demand in this 
respect if they propose to secure and hold at a profit their share of 
the foreign markets. 

During the past summer there was a very considerable advance in 
the price of the bacon offered in the English market from Canada, 
from the Continent, and from the English abattoirs. This rise was 
brought about by a temporary shortness of bacon supplies, but United 
States bacon did not participate to any appreciable extent in the gen- 
eral advance, for the reason that as prices went up consumption was 
checked and imports were increased, so that there came to prices a 
speedy decline. Competition in supplying bacon to European mar- 
kets is increasing from year to year because of the increasing number 
of packing houses upon the Continent. Danish bacon is constantly 
growing in favor with the European consumers. The shipments of 
that meat from Denmark during the seven months ended July 31 last 
were increased 9,049,600 pounds, compared with the shipments for the 
parallel period of the year 1894, notwithstanding the Danes received, 
because of a low-priced market, less money for the increased quantity 
by nearly $250,000 than the previous year yielded. 

The shipments of United States bacon increased in that time 
15,680,000 pounds. But it brought less money by $1,000,000 than the 
shipments of the year 1894. During the same time Canada received 
a less sum of money for an increased exportation of bacon to Europe. 

Modern methods of skillfully preparing and preserving great varie- 
ties of meat and vegetable foods of all kinds keep European and all 
other markets almost constantly supplied with a great variety of 
palatable and wholesome edibles. Moreover, the rapidity with which 
the United States and parts of Europe can respond to any unusual 


demand for bacon and other pork products renders it improbable that 
there will be any considerable and permanent advance in the prices 
of hog products during the immediate future. But if there should 
come an advance, it will, it is reasonable to conclude, be maintained 
only temporarily. American packers can only obtain and hold Eng- 
lish and other European bacon markets by specially preparing their 
meats to meet the taste and demand of those markets. Smaller and 
leaner swine for bacon purposes are demanded in nearly all foreign 
markets. And the meat must be mildly cured. But in Mexico and 
some of the South and Central American States the heaviest, fattest, 
and thickest sides are required. 

The American packers who will cure bacon as above described for 
European consumption and maintain a high quality for their brands 
will find a reward not only in European but in the home markets, for 
it is a fact that each year limited quantities of English bacon are 
shipped uninspected to New York and Boston grocers, who retail it at 
high figures to fastidious customers. It is considered a luxury at some 
American breakfast tables, though no inspection has been demanded 
or imposed by the United States. 

The following tables will be of interest to American producers and 
consumers alike: 

Wholesale prices of bacon and hams in London. 

[Per 100 pounds.] 



Same time last 

July, 1895. 

Same time last 





American (middles, short ribs) 

Cumberland cut 

Singed sides 


Legs, green _ 

Irish _ 



Long cut 


H.09 15.10 
9.69 H.ll 

14.00 17.00 

10.42 11.72 








14. 11 16 29 




17.33 19.50 




18.00 21.75 

11.60 12.60 
11.50 12.40 

17.33 21.73 

17.78 21.73 



Imports of bacon into the United Kingdom during the- first seven months of 1895, 
with comparisons ivith a similar period in each of the two previous years. 


Quantities ' for seven months 
ended July 31— 

Values for seven months ended July 31— 



























187 79 

775,267 51 


Other countries 








1 In hundredweights of 112 pounds. 

Imports of hams into the United Kingdom during the first seven months of 1895, 
with comparisons with a similar period in each of the two previous years. 


Quantities i for seven months 
ended July 31— 

Values for seven months ended July 31— 
























Other countries 









1 In hundredweights of 112 pounds. 

Imports of pork into the United Kingdom during the first seven months of 1895, 
with comparisons with a similar period in each of the two previous years. 


Quantities 1 for seven months 
ended July 31— 

Values for seven months ended July 31 — 







Salted (not hams) : 

From United States .. 
From other countries. 














Fresh : 







From Belgium 

From other countries . 









1 In hundredweights of 112 pounds. 

Imports of lard into the United Kingdom during the first seven months of 1895, 
with comparisons with a similar period in each of the two previous years. 


Quantities 1 for seven months 
ended July 31— 

Values for seven months ended July 31 — 





















1 In hundredweights of 112 pounds. 


Wholesale prices of lard in London. 
[Per 100 pounds.] 



Same time last 

July, 1895. 

Same time last 





Continental ... 

American pails 

Compound, or lardine 

$8.68-$10 85 
8.00 8.50 

9.50 10.25 

7.81 8.25 










8.90 9.54 



8.48 8.68 
6.08 6.56 


In June, 1895, English farmers carried 4,500,000 head of cattle. 
Three years before the same farmers owned 5,000,000 head. Thus a 
decline of 10 per cent is shown in thirty-six months. 

In Scotland, in June, 1895, there were 1,178,000 cattle; in Wales, 
704,000, and at the same time Ireland contained 4,358,000. Thus the 
total for the United Kingdom, in June, 1895, is about 10,750,000 head. 
But the United Kingdom is not holding its proportion of the trade as 
a purveyor of meat to its own people. Up to the present year the 
United States and Canada have had an unquestioned monoply in the 
supply of imported live cattle to the British people; but now there is 
vigorous and growing competition from Argentina and also incipient 
competition from Australia. 

The bulk of American shipments must be classed as first quality. 
The London average price for the six months ended August 31, 1895, 
for prime cattle was $8 per 100 pounds on foot; the Liverpool aver- 
age, $7.43; the Newcastle average, $7.62; and the Edinburgh average, 
$7.59. It is, however, only when we are dealing with live weights — 
that is to say, when the cattle are passing wholesale into first hands 
on the other side of the Atlantic — that we are able to detect any 
considerable difference between quotations for American beef and 
those for English or Scotch beef. During the first six months of this 
year domestic beef sold in Liverpool by the carcass at from $8 to $11.50 
per 100 pounds. During the same time beef from the United States 
sold by the carcass at from $10 to $10.75 per 100 pounds. The Liver- 
pool prices include all grades of domestic cattle; but shipments from 
the United States are picked lots. Our prices did not, therefore, 
decline to within $2 of the Liverpool minimum, but the Liverpool 
maximum price exceeded ours by three-fourths of a cent per pound. 

However, only a limited number of very fine carcasses were sold at 
top Liverpool prices, while a fair average of United States steers 
reached the maximum of $10.75 per 100 pounds. Therefore, Amer- 
ican carcasses, sold in Liverpool, approximated the same prices that 
English, Irish, or Scotch brought in the same market. The fact that a 


large number of Irish and some Scotch cattle are slaughtered at the 
Liverpool abattoirs, and that Liverpool's domestic trade is not subject 
to the same conditions which control the import trade from the United 
States, should not be lost sight of. To illustrate, prices at Birkenhead 
are sometimes considerably depressed by the simultaneous arrival of 
carcasses of cattle from Canada and the United States, while domes- 
tic prices at the Liverpool abattoirs are not thereby in the slightest 
degree affected. 

During the nine months of the year ended with last September, at 
the great Central meat market in London, the prices of prime Scotch 
and English beef compared with the prices of American as follows : 
Scotch sides, $11.25 to $14.62£ per 100 pounds; English prime, $11.25 
to $12.87^ per 100 pounds; American, $9 to $11.50 per 100 pounds. 
The extremely hot weather of September lowered all prices, and the 
high temperature of that month is wholly responsible for the minimum 
quotation of $9 per 100 pounds for American beef. Up to the begin- 
ning of September the lowest price during the year had been $10.50 
per 100 pounds. Top prices in London are only paid for the finest 
beef of the world. But the minimum prices of that city do not by 
any means represent the poorest quality. That finds a more profitable 
market elsewhere. The top prices for American beef in London are, 
as a rule, about equal to the bottom prices for the best Scotch and 
English beef. When United States meat is selling from $10 to $11 
per 100 pounds the Scotch and English are usually bringing from $11 
to $14 per 100 pounds. Of course, these prices refer exclusively to 
the wholesale market and dealings. The apparent disparity in values 
disappears when the beef reaches the retailer. 

A Birkenhead-killed American side reappears in the retail market 
as "prime Scotch," while a Deptford-killed United States steer mas- 
querades as "prime English beef." The British consumer is unable 
to detect, either by eye or palate, the origin of a side of beef or the 
roast cut from it. Thus far all attempts to identify and establish the 
nativity and fattening places of meats in English markets have failed. 
British consumers learned long ago that they had »been thoroughly 
and completely deceived by buying American for Scotch and English 
beef. The conclusion drawn from said successful and nutritious 
deception is that American beef is as good as any in the whole world. 
The complaint now made by consumers is merely that the retailer 
does not allow them to participate in the profits which he makes upon 
United States beef over and above those which he pockets upon Scotch 
and English of the same or similar quality. 

The report of the London Central Market, just issued, states that 
of the 341,000 tons of meat received there in 1894, 71,638 tons were 
American (this includes the relatively small quantity shipped from 
Canada), and 49,908 tons came from Australia and New Zealand. 
The United States and Canada will not be able in 1895 to show that 


they have supplied 20 per cent of the meat entering the great London 
market, and it may be a long time before they will repeat the figures 
of 1894. During the present year, however, steadier trade and prices 
have been quite satisfactory to American shippers and far more pro- 
ductive of profits than were the flurries and fluctuations of last year. 
Cattle in Great Britain from the United States represent more than 
68 per cent of all its beef importations. During the year United 
States beef carcasses have exceeded in price those from Canada by 
25 cents per 100 pounds. 

Argentina during the first eight months of 1893 sent to Europe 5,643 
head of cattle. During the same period of 1894, 7,831 head were 
exported, and during a corresponding period in 1895, 25,165 head. 
The shipments of this year were valued at $9,181,000. Thus they 
were priced on the other side of the Atlantic at $78.72 per head; that 
is, $6. 71 less than the declared value per capita of cattle from the 
United States. But this difference in price inadequately represents 
the decided difference in quality. South American cattle are coarser 
than ours, and the meat is not so salable in the English market. 
Prices of Argentina beef per carcass range from $1 to $2. 50 per 100 
pounds less than those paid for North American cattle. There is, 
however, no doubt that the Argentina shipper can make a profitable 
business at the prices named, and from year to year shipments from 
that Republic will continue and increase. Argentina is the most 
formidable beef-selling competitor of the United States in the world's 

Australia made the first large shipment of live animals from the 
Antarctic continent on the steamship Southern Cross, 5,050 tons regis- 
ter, which arrived at London from Sydney on the 10th day of Sep- 
tember, 1895, laden with cattle, sheep, and horses. This steamship 
came by way of Montevideo. That route was taken to avoid the heat 
of the Red Sea. The voyage occupied two months. During that 
time 52 cattle, 82 sheep, and 1 horse were lost. The shipment orig- 
inally was made up of 550 cattle — grade Herefords and Durhams; 488 
sheep, which were crossbreeds and Merino wethers, and 29 horses; the 
whole in charge of 30 men. The freight upon the cattle and horses 
was $39 a head, and the freight rate upon each sheep was $2. 50. This 
Department is credibly informed that the freight, insurance, fodder, 
and attendance amounted to $68.25 for each horse and each beef ani- 
mal, and to $6 for each head of sheep. The value of the cattle at 
Sydney .was $20 a head; therefore they stood the shipper, upon arriv- 
ing at Deptford, where they were sold, $88 apiece. 

The condition of the animals was fair, as those which had been 
selected for the experiment were very large and coarse, the idea being 
that it cost no more to send a large steer than a small one. The prices 
realized were a great disappointment to the shippers and were en- 
tirely inadequate to recoup them. It is therefore generally admitted 


in England that the experiment resulted in a very considerable loss. 
However, it is by no means certain that further experiments will not 
be made, nor can Americans congratulate themselves upon having no 
competition in the future from Australian cattle and their products in 
the markets of Europe. Frozen beef from that country will continue 
to be placed (although it is admitted to be of inferior quality) in 
European markets. But it is charged that out of the Australian cattle 
which arrived on the Southern Cross and were killed at Deptford 12 
were found to have contagious pleuro-pneumonia. 

Shipments of chilled beef from the United States fell off during the 
first eight months of the present year 11,000,000 pounds, but increased 
over the corresponding months of 1893 by about the same number of 
pounds. The high quality of beef shipped to Europe from the United 
States has been steadily maintained and appreciated by remunerative 
and profitable prices. Refrigerated hind quarters sold during the 
year from $10.50 to $13.50 per 100 pounds. The maximum price has 
been considerably above the top prices at any time obtainable for 
beef from American cattle killed upon landing at the abattoirs of 
either Deptford or Birkenhead. Naturally it seems that the ship- 
ments of chilled beef should rapidly increase and cause a decline and 
impairment of the live-cattle transatlantic trade. Nevertheless, it 
appears to work out more profitably to transport the live cattle. They 
are carried on parts of the ship that would otherwise be unoccupied. 
They do not require such special fittings and appliances as to debar 
the vessel from carrying other cargoes when cattle are not available. 

Shipments of frozen beef from the antipodes may possibly become 
more common in English markets. But after it is defrosted it is s 
unsightly in appearance, lacks flavor, and is repulsive when served in 
the English method as a "cold joint" the second day after cooking. 
Australian hind quarters have sold from $6.50 to $7 per 100 pounds 
throughout the present year, up to September 1, at the Central Mar- 
ket in London. That is only a trifle more than half the prices quoted 
for American refrigerated hind quarters. 


During the year ended May 31, 1895, there were only 26,426 cattle 
from the United States landed at Glasgow. From June, 1879, to the 
31st day of May above mentioned, American cattle landed at Glasgow 
numbered 337,627 animals. As a rule the cattle arrived there in good 
condition. The authorities of Glasgow make no discriminations 
against American live stock when compared with that from Canada. 
Animals from both countries are, by law, slaughtered within a certain 
number of days after landing. The average prices realized in Glasgow 
for cattle from the United States have been about 1 cent less than 
those obtained for Scotch cattle. The latest sale held at Yorkhill, 
Glasgow, on September 30, 1895, was of 384 United States animals, 


which realized, for 266 steers, from $62 to $85 and $115 each, and 32 
bulls, which sold per head from $50 and $65 to $96. 

Approximately the dead- weight quotations for the animals were: 
Best quality of steers, $12.15 per 100 pounds; heavy prime steers, 
$11.71; rough, secondary animals, $11; and at the same market, five 
days before — that is, on September 25 — top Scotch cattle sold at $13 
to $13.70 per 100 pounds; secondary, $12.37 to $12.80; third quality, 
$8.45 to $10.20; middling and inferior, $5.42 to $7.80. The bulk of 
the meat from American cattle sold at Glasgow is cut and retailed 
without any distinctive reference as to where it originated. In that 
city there are comparatively few retail dealers who sell Scotch beef 
exclusively. Those few retailers demand higher prices than those 
asked by dealers offering both Seotch and American meats. American 
cattle in the Seotch markets are looked upon as far superior in grade 
and quality to Irish cattle; in fact, they are regarded as next to the 
best Scotch. 

The following tables explain themselves : 

Table showing the quantity and value of beef imported into the United Kingdom 
during the first eight months of the years 1893, 189k, and 1895. 


Quantities 1 for eight 
months ended August 31— 

Values for eight months ended 
August 31— 








From United States . . . 
From other countries- 














Fresh : 

From United States... 
From other countries- 














Meat unenumerated : 








From United States .. . 
From other countries- 








1 In hundredweights of 112 pounds. 

Table showing the quantity and value of meat, 
imported into the United Kingdom during 
1893, 1894, and 1895. 

preserved otherwise than by salting, 
the first eight months of the years 


Quantities ' for eight 
months ended August 31— 

Values for eight months ended 
August 31 — 

























6, 500, 412. 76 

' In hundredweights of 112 pounds. 



Tlie number and value of cattle imported into the United Kingdom during the first 
eight months of the years 1893, 1894, and 1895. 

From — 

Number for eight months 
ended August 31 — 

Values for eight months ended 
August 31 — 






































Average wholesale prices of dressed meats at the London Central Meat Market, 


[Per 100 pounds. Compiled from the Board of Agriculture returns and from the Meat Trades 



First quarter, 

Second quar- 
ter, 1895. 

Third quarter, 

Average for 


Short sides _ 

Long sides.. 

English prime 

Cows and bulls. 


Deptford killed 

Birkenhead killed 

Eef rigerated hind quarters - . 

Eefrigerated fore quarters... 
Australian frozen hind quarters. 

Argentinian Deptford killed 

Mutton, Scotch prime 

English prime 


Butch and German 

New Zealand, frozen 

Australian, frozen 

River Plate : 


Town killed 

Lamb, English 

New Zealand, frozen 

Pork, English, small 

English, large 







25 11.75 




12.12* 12.62* 

11.75 12.37* 

7.25 9.75 

11.00 11.50 

10.75 11.50 

11.75 12.87* 

6.25 7.75 

























12.12* 13.62* 

11.00 12.87* 

6.00 10.00 



























11.37* 11.75 
11.12* 12.37* 

9.25 11.00 

9.25 11.00 

9.12* 10.62* 

5.25 8.00 





5.25 7.50 








Imports from Ireland into Great Britain of cattle, slieep, and pigs during the first 

eight months of 1895. 

Cattle _ _ _ ._ 402,707 

Decrease (as compared with same period last year) , . 32, 546 

Sheep _ _ ___ 453,840 

Decrease 214,000 

Pigs _._ 323,891 


Average prices (wholesale by the carcass) per 100 pounds of beef and mutton in 
Liverpool, Berlin, and Paris. 

City and product. 

Quarter ended— 

Mar. 3t, 1895. June 30, 1895. 


Home grown 1 

States cattle * 

Canadian cattle 2 

Colorado cattle 2 

South American cattle 5 

Mutton (home grown) '. 
Berlin: 3 

Beef (first quality) 

Mutton (first quality) - . 
Paris: 4 

Beef (medium quality).. 


10.00 10.50 

10.00 10.75 






13.10 13.90 
10.35 10.90 












1 From official report to Board of Agriculture. 
a Compiled from prices in Meat Trades Journal. 

3 From Deutsche Landwirthschaftliche Presse. 

4 From Journal de 1'Agriculture Pratique. 

Average prices per 100 live pounds of domestic cattle in certain English and Scotch 
markets for the first six months of 1895 and 189 b. 

[From official sources. It should be noted that these are live weights.] 

Location of market. 

Inferior or 
third quality. 

1895. 1894. 

Good or sec- 
ond quality. 



Prime or first 





Newcastle. .. 














Average value per 100 pounds of dead meats imported into the United Kingdom. 
[Compiled at the Board of Agriculture from the trade and navigation accounts.] 








for the 
last nine 
of 1894. 




















In 1895 there were about 30,000,000 sheep in Great Britain. The 
falling off in English flocks during the last few years has been very 
marked. Prices have been, however, firmly maintained for mutton, 
notwithstanding the great increase of the importations of live sheep 
and frozen mutton. The United States shipped more than three times 
as many sheep to England this year as in 1894. Argentina increased 
her shipments of mutton to the same markets from 53,000 to 240,000, 
but Canada remained practically stationary at about 50,000 head. No 
law compels the slaughtering of these animals at the port of debarka- 
tion. Many of them, therefore, are fattened upon English pastures 
and sent to market as English. This is probably the principal reason 
why the table herewith submitted shows no quotations for American 
mutton as such : 

Table showing the quantity and value of mutton imported into the United Kingdom 
during tlie first eight months of the years 1893, 1894, and 1895. 


Quantities * for eight months 
ended August 31— 

Values for eight months ended August 31— 






























Australasia - 

3, 162, 928. 14 

Other countries. . . 









1 In hundredweights of 112 pounds. 

The Journal of the British Board of Agriculture for the month of 
September last says: 

Taken in conjunction with the large increase in the arrivals of live sheep, it is 
noteworthy that, roughly computing the number of carcasses represented by the 
total weight of mutton received and adding this to the sheep imported alive into 
the United Kingdom, the total receipts of mutton alive and dead indicate an 
importation equivalent to 3,000,000 head of sheep in the half year ended June 30, 

The above quotation indicates that the British consumption of 
imported mutton amounts to 6,000,000 head of sheep in a single year; 
and as there is no international agreement fixing the price of meats 
in the English market, the relation of the supply of meats to the 
demand for meats will continue to regulate the values, and those who 
can produce beef, pork, and mutton and place it in the European 
markets at the least cost will secure a monopoly of the trade. The 
struggle for the privilege of purveying food to consumers in all the 
markets of the civilized world was never before so strenuous, and 
neither national legislation nor international treaties can permanently 
retard, repress, increase, or encourage exchanges between the civi- 
lized peoples of the globe. That trade which is profitable will continue 
in spite of legislation, and that which is unprofitable can not be 
legislated into remunerative conditions. 



During the first eight months of the year 1893, 10,177 horses, in the 
same period of 1894, 15,614 horses, and during the eight months ended 
August 31, 1895, 22,755 horses from the United States were landed and 
sold in Great Britain, this last exportation being valued at $2,947,000. 

The average price of American geldings in the English market dur- 
ing the first eight months of/the year 1895 was $155.50. Geldings 
from Canada during the same period of time averaged $141 each, 
while those from Germany during the same months in the English 
market averaged only $56 per head. However, as the appraised or 
entered values of horses at custom-houses, where they are free of duty, 
is altogether an arbitrary matter, too much weight should not be given 
to the per capita valuations above, as they can not more than approxi- 
mately represent the real subsequent selling valxie of the animals. 
The low valuation of German geldings indicates that those shipments 
are of an inferior class of horses which can not compete with American 
animals. The fact is Germany herself is a very large importer of a 
fine quality of horses from Russia, and animals of superior merits 
always find a market in Berlin and the other large cities of the 
Empire. * 

The Department of Agriculture is credibly informed that Germany 
has taken during the past year almost as many horses from the United 
States as did Great Britain in 1892, showing that opportunity exists 
also there for intelligent horse breeders in the United States. 

Twenty-seven hundred mares were sent from the United States into 
the British market during the first eight months of this year, as 
against 461 for the same period last year and 112 for the year 1893. 
The average value per head of American mares this year was $134. 
It will be observed that this price is much lower than that of geld- 
ings. It indicates that no superior mares for breeding purposes were 
exported from the United States. 

In September, 1895, some good carriage horses were received in Eng- 
land from this country. They were of fine appearance, well gaited, 
thoroughly broken, and free from blemish. The best of them sold at 
$230 single, and as low as $300 for a matched team. The demand for 
such animals at that time seemed to be quite abreast, and possibly a 
little in advance, of the supply. 

Europeans who have bought and used American horses generally 
express a very favorable opinion of them. The horses from the 
United States which have been criticised have been confined to a 
limited number of heavy-weight draft horses. Up to date some of 
the great transportation companies in London which are using Amer- 
ican horses decline to give positive expression of their opinions regard- 
ing their qualities and durability. The London Roadear Company, 
however, is using a great number of American animals, for which it 


has paid from $100 to $175 a head, and the managers of that corpora- 
tion unhesitatingly declare that the imported horses wear as well as 
the home bred, and that they acclimatize with facility and celerity. 
The Andrews-Star Omnibus Company, of London, is also using many 
American horses, which they purchased through London and New- 
castle-on-Tyne dealers. Inquiry shows that there are many other 
establishments in England utilizing American horses, including the 
Great Eastern Railway Company, which has paid as high as $190 to 
$220 per head for imported draft horses. 
Editor McDonald, of the London Farmer and Stock Breeder, writes : 

From what- 1 have been able to learn, it seems to me too early yet to pass any 
opinion regarding the future of the trade. The warm climate of London gives the 
American horses every opportunity of doing well. In Scotland acclimatization is 
much more difficult, and hence it is found that three months' hard work on the 
causeway reduces them to skin and bone. The custom is largely pursued there (in 
Scotland) of buying animals from the ship and feeding them into good condition. 
By this means the farmer is enabled to reap a substantial profit with half the 
trouble and risk involved in breeding. This system is hardly pursued at all in 
England. Dealers usually hold large strings, and the horse repositories, through 
which the bulk of the trade is done, are called upon to meet the demand. The 
market at present is rather depressed, as is the market for home breeds. 


The trade in horses from the United States began to assume grow- 
ing proportions in the city of Glasgow in the year 1891, during which 
the Dominion Line took into that city 114 horses. But in 1892 it car- 
ried in 147 head; in 1893, 137 head, and in 1894, 209 head. Since 1891 
the Allan steamers have also carried to Glasgow 7,500 horses, and out 
of that number about 3,000 arrived in 1894. The total number of 
horses taken into Scotland from the United States and Canada in four 
years has not been less than 10,600. During the same period of time 
the Scotch export trade has fallen from 1,100 to 20 horses, while the 
American import trade at Glasgow has grown to about 4,000 animals. 
Most of the American horses there were natives of the Western States, 
though shipped from Montreal, Portland, Boston, and New York. As 
a rule, they have been light wagon or carriage horses. 

From reputable sources in Glasgow this Department learns that the 
importation of American horses is now engaging the serious attention 
of dealers and contractors in that .city. The Department is further 
informed that the larger proportion of horses received thei*e from the 
United States have given entire satisfaction to their purchasers, and 
that the only disappointing animals shipped from this country have 
been a few of the Clydesdale type, which have shown a markedly 
rheumatic tendency. If horses of a useful size, trained for roadsters 
and likewise adapted to ordinary wagon work — something after the 
style of Cleveland bays — are shipped from the United States to Glas- 
gow they will, as a rule, find a ready and profitable market. Heavy 
horses, likewise, weighing from 1,300 to 1,500 pounds, in matched 


pairs, may be shipped at current prices to that port with a probable 
profit, though it might prove unprofitable to send in a large number 
of such animals at the same time. 

It seems now to be generally conceded in Great Britain that it is 
cheaper to import American horses than to produce horses in that 
Kingdom. It is also pretty universally admitted that the Canadian 
carriage horses are inferior to those exported from the United States, 
though the Canadian animals are claimed to possess, as a rule, greater 
power of endurance. There are now a number of reputable firms of 
agricultural salesmen in England and in Scotland, at London and at 
Glasgow, to whom consignments have been made by Americans with 
quite satisfactory results. Immediately upon the arrival of steamers 
carrying horses, or within a few days after landing, the animals are 
exposed for sale at auction. They are readily purchased by contract- 
ors and others who require them for their own use, and thus there 
are very few transactions through middlemen. 


In view of the growing foreign market for American horses, the 
Bureau of Animal Industry, under existing laws, will soon institute 
a thorough and rigid veterinary inspection of all horses for exporta- 
tion. This, it is hoped, will preclude the possibility of the growth of 
the trade being impaired or suppressed by the foreign protective or 
agrarian element upon alleged sanitary grounds. After inspection 
each animal will be tagged and described so that identification will be 
easily made upon landing should any communicable or contagious 
disease be alleged to affect a horse in any lot shipped from the United 

It is important that the law providing for meat inspection be 
amended in several particulars. The suggestions of the Chief of the 
Bureau of Animal Industry (page 104, report 1895) are worthy of 
immediate consideration by the legislative branch of the Govern- 
ment. Unless the law can be perfected it can not be satisfactorily 
administered, nor can needed additional regulations be instituted 
and carried out. 



Throughout the year United States cheese has commanded the 
minimum figure upon the English market, and as by the operation 
of an invariable law the lower grades always suffer the most by a 
material fall in prices, our cheese has suffered disproportionately to 
other makes by the depressed condition of the English cheese market, 
and has reached in 1895 the lowest price yet quoted for American 
cheese in that country, namely, $2.17 per 100 pounds. 



Our agent and correspondent reports in explanation that "United 
States cheese is, as a whole, the poorest in quality that reaches the 
English market, and the British public are not only aware of the fact 
but are prejudiced against it because so much in the past has been 
adulterated. " While accusations that ' ' filled cheese " is being dumped 
on the British markets from the United States go unref uted, the very 
first statement impugning the Canadian product in the same manner 
was met with cabled denials from the Canadian Government; denials 
from the Canadian agent-general in London and Canadian exporters. 
The incident, it seems, has actually turned out to be an excellent adver- 
tisement for Canadian cheese, and it is now perfectly well understood 
by the British public that Canada is maintaining with strenuous care 
the quality of her exports. 

During the first eight months of last year Canada and the United 
States stood side by side in supplying the English market with cheese; 
but whereas Canada has this year not only held her own, but made a 
slight gain, shipments from the United States have fallen off 117,000 
hundredweight, an amount about corresponding to the increased ship- 
ments of Australasia and Canada and to the falling off in the total 
imports into Great Britain. In fact, every country shipping cheese to 
Great Britain has this year enlarged its trade with that country except 
the United States, which has lost over 21 per cent of its last year's 

The following table represents the quantity and value of cheese im- 
ported into the United Kingdom : 

Table showing the quantity and value of cheese imported into the United Kingdom 
during the first eight months of the years 189S, 189 If, and 1895. 

Quantity (cwts. of 112 pounds). 
































United States 

Other countries 










Shipments of butter from the United States represent almost 1 per 
cent of the total imported into Great Britain. Denmark still holds 
the lead of all competitors in supplying this great butter market, 
others being France, Australasia, Sweden, and Finland, in the order 


Table showing the quantity and value of butter imported into the United Kingdom 
during the first eight months of the years 1893, 1894, and 1895. 


Quantity (cwts. of 112 pounds). 








c. 649,779 












$4,873,347 16 

• 552,235.82 


United States 

Other countries 








No one can carefully peruse the above facts and figures without 
arriving at the conclusion that unless our shippers of cheese pursue 
a very different course our foreign trade in that product will speedily 
fall, in the face of active, intelligent, and honest competition from 
all parts of the world, to the level now occupied by American butter. 
We have here a graphic illustration of the disastrous effects in all 
trade of disregarding the tastes of consumers and of acquiring a bad 


The importance of the subject to American farmers, who must learn 
to make up from subsidiary products, and, if neeessary, in small sums, 
the losses entailed by low prices for staple crops, suggests reference 
to two so-called minor crops, one of which, eggs, is not quite sufficient 
to supply our own consumers, and the other, honey, affords us a little 
surplus for which there is a foreign demand, which, by intelligent 
and assiduous cultivation, could doubtless be greatly developed. 

The importance of the following table to poultry keepers is seen in 
the evidence it presents of a large foreign market of which we not 
only get no share, but in which we actually figure as purchasers our- 
selves : 

Table showing the quantity and value of eggs imported into the United Kingdom 
during the first eight months of the years 1893, 1894, and 1895.. 

Quantity (great hundreds). 
































Germany .. 

Other countries 










The English honey market is supplied by the home product, from 
the United States, and from Chile. There is a large and steady 
demand, and, though sometimes exceeded by the supply, this is an 
unusual occurrence. The English honey harvest has been very good 
this year, and it is selling upon the retailer's counter at from 20 cents 
to 25 cents per pound. Wholesale prices at the latest date obtainable 
are as follows: » 

English : Earthenware pots, finest, per doz $1.45 

Earthenware pots, finest, i-pound, per doz .90 

Flint-glass jars, 17-ounce, per doz 1.70 

Transparent honey, in glass jars, nickel-plated screw top, 

per doz „ 1.57 

United States : Thurber-Whyland's white sage, strained, 1-pound 

jars, 2 dozen in a case, per doz. . _ 2. 30 

Californian, in original cans (about 56 pounds) , per cwt. of 112 lbs_ 9. 60 

Chilean, in original cwt. kegs, per cwt 8.75 

The American white sage commands the top price. It is a delicious 
honey and most attractively put up. .All honeys sent to England are 
strained except a nominal quantity that reaches there in the comb 
from California. California shipments of strained honey are made in 
56-pound tins, two tins in a case. Chilean usually comes in 60-pound 
kegs, but sometimes in 112-pound barrels. It is not a matter of great 
importance, as to size of packages, etc. , though it would be well to 
conform to the California practice. It would be ruinous to send 
adulterated honey to England. 

Our agent in England has had several inquiries as to honey market 
this year, especially from Texas, and he has supplied inquirers with 
names of importers in England, and with information as to how to 
approach them, and this he will be pleased to do for all inquirers. 

The Department has knowledge that some years ago a large honey 
maker in California found in China a profitable market for some 20 
tons of honey annually. 

In this, as in every other branch of industry, only the makes of the 

best, most genuine products can secure a permanent, profitable trade, 

creditable alike to themselves and their country, and they alone 

deserve to. 


For the fiscal year ended June 30, 1895, Congress appropriated 
$878,438.84 to maintain the United States Weather Bureau. Ex- 
penses, however, were reduced while the efficiency of the service in- 
creased, so that there remains approximately a sum of $55,000 which 
will ultimately be covered back into the Treasury of the United States 
out of the appropriated amount. During the same twelve months 
the Weather Bureau received for condemned property, sale of pub- 
lications, and seacoast telegraph lines, and deposited in the Treasury 


of the United States, the additional sum of $5,498.57, making a total 
to be covered in by this Bureau of something over $60,000. 


Detailed statements as to forecasts published during the year in 
the different States and Territories of the Republic are contained 
in the annual report of the Chief of the Weather Bureau. That 
report also gives approximations of the value of property saved 
because of those forecasts, and declares that the warnings of cold 
waves alone secured from freezing more than $2,275,000 worth of 
perishable agricultural products which otherwise would have been 
lost. It is proved by the report of the Chief of the Weather Bureau 
that the degree of accuracy in the forecast division thereof is steadily 
augmenting. It is now a duty, under orders from the Secretary of 
Agriculture to the Chief of the Weather Bureau, that reports be 
made on the first day of each month of all forecasts made for the 
previous thirty days, together with the percentages of their verifica- 

Thus every forecaster realizes that his work is to be reviewed at 
the close of each four weeks and his accuracy tested by mathematical 
computation and verification. This feature in the administration of 
the Weather Bureau has been adopted since Prof. Willis L. Moore 
was appointed chief of that bureau and entered upon his duties, 
July 4, 1895. Since that date many reforms have been successfully 
instituted, and thus far the service continues to show a marked 
and decided improvement as to its management and efficiency. 

The present Chief of the Weather Bureau began his profession in 
an observer's station twenty years ago. He came up from the ranks 
of the intelligent and industrious workers. In 1894, at a competitive 
examination, which had been instituted by the Secretary of Agricul- 
ture, for a $2,500 professorship, it was decided, after a severe contest 
# and examination by Professors Harrington and Mendenhall and Maj. 
H. H. C. Dunwoody, of the Signal Corps of the Regular Army of the 
United States, that Prof. Willis L. Moore was entitled, by ability and 
acquirements, to the place. Thereupon, he was detailed to take 
charge of the Weather Bureau station at Chicago. He gave an 
entirely satisfactory and markedly useful service in that city. From 
there he was called to his present position. His success and promo- 
tion opens the way for advancement, through industry, skill, and 
attainments, to every observer in the Bureau. 

The possibilities of usefulness to agriculture, manufacture, and 
commerce are almost without limit in the increasing accuracy and 
capabilities of the Weather Bureau. The time is not probably very 
distant when its records, warnings, and forecasts will be constantly 
in demand as evidence in the courts of justice and also by those pur- 
posing large investments in certain kinds of agricultural crops, in 


perishable fruits, in commercial ventures, and in manufacturing 
plants. Weather Bureau forecasts in the not distant future will, no 
doubt, be consulted and awarded credibility just as thermometers, 
barometers, and aerometers are to-day. The usefulness of the mete- 
orological branch of the service, wisely and economically administered, 
is beyond computation. The annual report of the present chief is 
replete with interesting and practical suggestions. 


The work of the Division of Statistics, in charge of Henry A. Rob- 
inson, its chief, is, primarily, collecting, through many thousands of 
unpaid county correspondents in the several States and Territories of 
the Union, agricultural data as to area, condition, and probabilities 
of crops. After this data has been tabulated, averaged, and consoli- 
dated it is given to the general public in the form of approximations, 
as to acreage, condition, and yield. 

From its origin, the conclusions and reports of this division have 
been frequently subjected to more or less severe criticism. Public 
attention is often called to the fact that the annual cost of securing 
agricultural statistics which are published from time to time by this 
Department is about $100,000, and that therefore they ought to more 
nearly attain accuracy. The authors of these criticisms forget that 
while about that sum of money is exhausted annually in the payment 
of certain State statistical agents and the employees and expenses of 
the division in the city of Washington, 10,000 county crop reporters 
in 2,500 counties throughout the several States and Territories of the 
American Union perform their duties without any pecuniary remu- 
neration whatever. 

Added to the foregoing unremunerated force there are 15,000 mil- 
lers and elevator men who send in figures and data from month to 
month relative to cereal and other crops, and also 15,000 township 
correspondents who do the same thing, and 6,300 agents who report 
to the several State statistical agents, who condense and send to this 
Department the results of their inquiries and estimates, and added 
to this last list are 3,000 special cotton-crop correspondents; and 
supplementing all the foregoing there are 123,000 American farmers 
who have been selected because of their large experience and superior 
intelligence who assist (by making special investigations) in verifying 
the vast amount of data and figures furnished by the tens of thou- 
sands of correspondents enumerated. And not a single one of the 
aforesaid correspondents among the farmers, elevator men, millers, 
and other intelligent classes of citizens named receives a dollar of 
salary out of the Treasury of the United States. The marvel, there- 
fore, is that the data thus patriotically and freely furnished the Divi- 
sion of Statistics should prove as valuable, reliable, and accurate as it 

2 a 95 2 


The statistical system of this Department at present, consequently, 
provides for the payment of collating and disseminating data evolved 
from facts and figures which have been furnished to its various sections 
and officers in Washington as mere gratuities. The fact that some 
citizens are paid fair salaries for industriously and correctly making 
computations, averages, and approximations, and determining results 
from conditions and figures which have been gratuitously collected 
and sent in by other citizens who were wholly without compensation, 
is not calculated to inspire great faith or credibility as to the relia- 
bility of the conclusions reached. During the past year, however, in 
addition to the usual county and township crop correspondents, gen- 
erally belonging to the agricultural classes, the Department has secured 
from month to month data from millers throughout the country, from 
railroad managers, from railroad station agents, and from bankers, 
merchants, and nearly every other intelligent source of information. 
During the last twelve months a visible improvement as to the accu- 
racy of figures promulgated has been developed relative to the cotton 
and some other crops, and yet the condition of the division and the 
fruits of its labors are not entirely satisfactory. 

Neither individuals nor governments can, ordinarily, successfully 
and permanently obtain a valuable gratuitous service. Humanity 
seldom gives, either to citizens or governments, something for noth- 
ing, except in cases of poverty and distress. It is, therefore, the 
opinion of the Secretary of Agriculture that no satisfactorily accurate 
statistical work can be accomplished for agriculture and commerce 
by this Department until a sufficient permanent appropriation shall 
have been made to provide for the taking of an annual agricultural 
census. Others who have made this subject a profound study, and 
whose judgment is entitled to great consideration and respect, believe 
that reliable detailed data may be gathered by the assessors of taxes 
in the various States and Territories. Others again, of equal experi- 
ence in statistical research, declare that the collectors of internal 
revenue and their deputies and other employees could be success- 
fully commanded by the Treasury Department for the collection of 
agricultural statistics. 

Again, men of great experience in the cereal and cotton trades 
claim that if the acreage be accurately ascertained as to each staple 
product, and that acreage published in the month of June each year, 
and additionally the climatic conditions in each locality be also offi- 
cially promulgated each day or week or month during the growing 
season, more accurate approximations of crops can be reached than 
by any other method. 

It is possible, in the opinion of the Secretary, that the duty of ascer- 
taining and reporting to this Department accurately the acreage of 
staple crops in each State on June 1 of each year might be, without 
working any hardship, imposed by law upon the authorities of our 


agricultural colleges and experiment stations in consideration of their 
united annual appropriation of $40,000 each. The acreage being 
given, the character of soil known, and climatic conditions published 
daily by the "Weather Bureau, approximations of the yields of each 
crop could be probably computed with more accuracy than under the 
present methods. 

Attention is particularly directed to the report of the chief of this 
division, which in detail and very clearly describes its work during 
the fiscal year, and likewise reiterates cogently an argument in favor 
of taking an annual agricultural census. It concludes that if there 
be value in statistics as now gathered and published there would be 
infinitely greater value and use for statistics based upon absolutely 
accurate returns made by the takers of a yearly farm census. 

If, however, the Congress of the United States finally provides for 
a permanent census bureau to gather populational, agricultural, com- 
mercial, and manufacturing statistics each year, instead of once in 
ten years, the entire business of collecting agricultural data and 
statistics should be vested in that bureau, which is now proposed and 
advocated as a permanency by many of the most thoughtful econo- 
mists and statists of the United States. 


The Office of Experiment Stations continues in charge of Dr. A. C. 
True as Director. 

In his report for 1893 the Secretary of Agriculture recommended 
that he be given authority to supervise the expenditures of agricul- 
tural stations ; this had not been done before. In pursuance of this 
suggestion the Fifty-third Congress inserted the following sentence in 
the paragraphs providing the usual appropriation for these stations : 

The Secretary of Agriculture shall prescribe the form of annual financial state- 
ment required fay section three of the act of March second, eighteen hundred and 
eighty-seven; shall ascertain whether the expenditures under the appropriation 
hereby made are in accordance with the provisions of the said act, and shall make 
report thereon to Congress. 

The blank schedules for reports and instructions for filling them up 
were prepared and distributed to the experiment stations as soon as 
practicable after the passage of this act. The new law applied to the 
appropriations made for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1895. Under 
the original experiment-station act the reports of these stations are 
not due until February 1, 1896. A complete report on their work and 
expenditures during the past fiscal year is therefore not possible at 
this time. This will, however, be prepared as soon as practicable for 
transmission to Congress. It is respectfully recommended that the 
original experiment-station act be amended so as to require the finan- 
cial reports of the stations to be rendered to the Secretary of Agricul- 
ture on or before September 1 following the close of the fiscal year. 


Thus it will be possible thereafter to include a report on their expendi- 
tures as a part of the Annual Report of the Secretary of Agricul- 

In order that the Department might have accurate and complete 
information regarding the work and expenditures of the stations as 
the basis for the report to be made by the Secretary of Agriculture, 
it was decided that the stations should be visited by representatives 
of the Department. Up to the end of the fiscal year 35 of these 
stations were thus visited. In connection with these visits inquiries 
were made regarding the general management of the stations and 
their relations to the colleges; their methods of keeping accounts and 
records of their work; the lines and methods of work undertaken, 
and all other matters which might throw light upon the expenditures 
as reported. 


In regard to the work of the stations the Assistant Secretary of 
Agriculture, Dr. Charles W. Dabney, jr. , says : 

In a general way it may be said that the investigation of the work of the sta^ 
tions thus far made clearly indicates that even the poorest of our stations have 
done scientific work of practical benefit to the farmers of their communities, and 
that in many cases the services of the stations already rendered have been of great 
value to practical agriculture, far surpassing in the aggregate the total amount 
of expenditure made for them by the National Government. The greatest hin- 
drances to successful work have arisen in those communities which have failed to 
appreciate the fact that the stations are primarily scientific institutions, and that, 
while they should always keep steadily in view the practical results to be obtained, 
they render the most permanent benefits to agriculture when they make thorough 
scientific investigations of problems underlying successful agriculture and horti- 

The importance of adopting definite lines of work and sticking to them until 
definite results have been obtained is strongly urged. In order to accomplish this 
there. should be greater permanency in the organization and tenure of office of the 
stations, as frequent changes in boards' of management and station officers have 
caused corresponding changes in the policy and work of many of the stations, which 
have either prevented their carrying out any thorough inquiries or discouraged the 
undertaking of important investigations. 

In some cases the institutions with which the stations are connected have not 
received that support from the States which was necessary and was evidently con- 
templated under the acts of March 2, 1887, and August 80, 1890. In all of the acts 
from the land-grant act of 1862, providing the first endowment for colleges of 
agriculture and mechanic arts, down to the act of August 30, 1890, making a hand- 
some addition to the income of the same institutions, it is clearly implied that the 
States shall provide the necessary land and buildings for these colleges as well as 
the experiment stations connected with them. The United States has provided a 
part of the funds necessary for paying the current expenses of these institutions, 
but in doing so it places the obligation upon the States to provide the necessary 
land, buildings, and other things belonging to the plant. In all such cases this 
Department has sought to bring the local communities to realize more fully the 
importance of contributing from their own means to build up strong institutions 
for the benefit of agriculture. 



The supervision of the investigations on this subject was assigned 
to the Office of Experiment Stations, with Prof. W. O. Atwater as 
special agent in charge. In accordance with the terms of the law, the 
cooperation of the agricultural experiment stations has been sought 
as far as was justified by their facilities and the requirements of their 
work. As a rule, only such institutions were invited to join in this 
work as were in a position to contribute the services of experts, 
laboratory facilities, and other resources to supplement those provided 
by this appropriation. In this way work has been carried on under 
the immediate direction of Professor Atwater at Middletown, Conn. ; 
in connection with the Society for Improving the Condition of the 
Poor and the Industrial Christian Alliance in New York City; in 
connection with the New Jersey State Experiment Station at New 
Brunswick; at Pittsburg, Pa. ; at Charleston, S. C. ; at Suffield, Conn. ; 
in connection with the agricultural experiment station at Auburn, 
Ala., and the Tuskegee Normal Institute, in Alabama; in connection 
with the University of Missouri, at Columbia; the University of 
Tennessee, at Knoxville; Purdue University, at Lafayette, Ind. ; the 
Hull House, at Chicago, 111. , and the Maine State College, at Orono, Me. 

The work has included so far the following lines: Studies of the 
composition, nutritive value, and cost of food materials; studies of 
actual dietaries, with a view to learning what are the kinds and 
amounts of food materials actually consumed by people of different 
sections, of different occupations, and under different conditions; 
studies on the digestibility of food; methods of investigation of food 
subjects, etc. The results of inquiries on food conducted in this 
country and abroad have been compiled, and already one technical and 
several popular publications have been prepared and published. 

A standard table of the results of food analyses is in course of 
preparation. Many food materials never before analyzed have been 
analyzed by our agents, and during the year the number of food 
analyses tabulated has increased from about 1,100 to 3,000. When 
completed, this standard table of analyses will form an important 
advance in the study and will furnish a basis for future investigation. 

An effort will be made to build up centers of inquiry where the 
more scientific and fundamental problems can be investigated, where 
workers in this line can be trained, where the importance and useful- 
ness of accurate information regarding the rational nutrition of man 
will be taught to large bodies of students, and from which the prac- 
tical results of food investigations may be widely and efficiently dis- 
seminated among all the people. The results of this work thus far 
published have awakened great interest in the subject, especially 
among physicians, teachers, clergymen, the officers of our Army and 
Navy, the superintendents of benevolent institutions, and persons 


studying the sociological conditions of modern times. The investi- 
gations already made plainly show the wastefulness of the dietaries of 
a large number of people, and the importance of practical instruction 
in regard to proper methods of preparing and cooking food. 

The work of the experiment stations is so varied and voluminous 
that no adequate conception thereof can be obtained except by a care- 
ful perusal of the report of the Director of the Office of Experiment 
Stations, to which you are respectfully referred. 


The timber investigations have been continued and have received 
most of the attention and the largest share of the appropriation for 
this division, of which Prof. B. E. Fernow is chief. They are the most 
comprehensive experiments of the kind ever undertaken, and include 
tests of the average values of strength for the various species, varia- 
tion of strength in the various parts of the trees, the variation of 
strength of timbers containing different amounts of moisture, the 
effects of dry-kiln treatment, etc. Altogether 175 trees, representing 
24 species and 5 different sites, have been collected during the year. 
The total collection to date for this purpose numbers 761 trees, repre- 
senting 39 species, mainly of Southern timber. Thirteen thousand 
tests were made during the year, 340 of which were large columns and 
beams, and a large amount of material was placed in dry kilns for 
next year's work. 

Results referring to the four Southern pines, representing 163 trees 
and over 24,000 separate values, have been computed and arranged 
for publication. These results show that the shortleaf and loblolly 
pine are inferior to longleaf and Cuban pine by about 24 per cent; 
that the wood near the stump is 25 to 30 per cent heavier and better 
than that of the upper log; that the wood produced by trees 25 to 60 
years of age is the best, and that in old trees there is a variation of 15 
to 25 per cent in wood and quality. Special experiments in shrinking 
and swelling of timber were continued, and it was found that the wood 
of all pines varies in proportion to its original weight. Treatment 
with high temperature under pressure does not, as has been claimed 
by owners of certain processes of wood treatment, do away with 
shrinkage either in pine or oak. These specimen results show the 
great practical value of these timber investigations. 

A series of experiments have also been begun with the object of 
determining how far the great deterioration of resin, so often noticed 
by turpentine collectors, is due to unavoidable physiological causes, 
how far to existing practices, and how these practices may be 

A series of measurements of the rate of growth of white pine has been 
made in Wisconsin and Michigan, comprising detail measurements 
of over 400 trees and the determination of 13 acre-yields, including 


measurements made in connection with the collection of material 
for timber investigations. There are now on hand measurements of 
1,700 trees, mostly pines, spruce, and a few hard woods, in addition 
to 57 acre-yields. Over 500 of these measurements have been worked 
up and tabiilated, and the results charted so as to show the growth 
and development. These results show, for example, that the long- 
leaf and Cuban pines both grow in height and thickness much faster 
than had been supposed. Trees of white pine over 200 years old 
have been found to have made over 1£ cubic feet annually for a cen- 
tury and a half. This work will be made the basis of a discussion 
of profitable forestry, and shall be continued until the rate of 
growth and capacity for production of all of our important species 
is established. 

A series of experimental plantings in the "Western treeless country 
for the purpose of testing the best varieties of trees suitable for forest 
planting and the best methods of planting in the conditions prevailing 
there have been started in connection with the agricultural experi- 
ment stations in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado. It 
is proposed to continue these experiments for a number of years in 
the hope of getting material for a report on AVestern forest planting. 

This division has continued most actively its propaganda work. 
Through publications and by correspondence, and through lectures 
and addresses before agricultural colleges, summer schools, and pub- 
lic meetings it has sought in every way possible to further the estab- 
lishment of a forestry policy among the people of the United States. 
By the extension of Arbor Day it is endeavoring to educate the 
children in the schools and the young people in the academies and 
colleges to love trees and to plant them. 


In this connection it is interesting to note that through the agency 
of Dr. Northrup, of the United States, and of the vice-minister of edu- 
cation of Japan, Mr. S. Makino, Arbor Day has been taken up by the 
teachers of that progressive country, with the prospect of its early 
establishment as a memorial day in all of its x>ublic schools. Through 
the courtesy of the Hon. S. Kurino, Imperial Japanese minister to the 
United States, the Secretary of Agriculture is able to present to you 
the following translation from a Japanese document, setting forth the 
movement and a carefully considered plan for Arbor Day, drawn up 
for the bureau of private revenue in the Imperial household depart- 
ment. This plan shows such an intelligent appreciation of the rea- 
sons for Arbor Day, and contains so many valuable suggestions with 
regard to the method of carrying it out, that it seems to merit special 
attention : 

Some time ago Dr. Northrup, of the United States of America, came to Japan 
and had a talk with Mr. Makino, Yice-minister of education, on the subject of 


Arbor Day. About the same time the meetings of the presidents of normal 
schools were being held from time to time at the educational department, and 
the vice-minister took this occasion to explain at one of the meetings the purport 
of his interview with Dr. Northrup, recommending the advisability of the adop- 
tion of this system in Japan. Ever since then the question of Arbor Day has 
attracted the attention of educators in Japan. The following article is con- 
tributed to this office, embodying some remarks on the subject by one now living 
in Shizuoka, who has been in the service of the bureau of private revenue in the 
Imperial household department and who has had many years' experience in the 
forestry business: 

"There are two objects to be attained by the adoption of a definite day for 
tree planting by the boys of our school — an Arbor Day — (1) To foster the idea of 
industry in the minds of schoolboys, divert them from indulging in bad practices, 
and cultivate among them botanical taste, besides affording intellectual pleasure 
and teaching them to look upon trees as the embodiment of love of home and 

" (2) In addition, the practice might be made conducive to increasing the 
resources of the country. 

"This system, if widely adopted, will be of indirect but great benefit, by 
inspiring dwellers in the country with the love of forests, thereby on the one 
hand reducing the danger of injury to them, and on the other promoting their 
growth. Other benefits to accrue, such as the prevention of sand falling, the 
protection from wind, the preservation of water resources, the addition to natural 
beauty and to the landmarks, the increase in the supply of fuel, are of vast 
importance to the country and the people. 

"To simultaneously attain the two objects indicated above special heed must be 
given to following points : 

" (1) Plantation fund. — There ought to be a fixed and permanent source of 
income. This needs no argument. Nothing, however meritorious, can be under- 
taken without such a fund, and nothing can be maintained unless the fund is 
stable. Especially is this the case with forestry, as the foundation principle of 
forestry economy is permanency, and the Memorial Day plantation ought to 
thrive with the age of the school. 

•' (2) Selection of ground. — This is the first step to be taken after the source of 
the fund is determined ; but there will be great difficulty in getting proper ground, 
as it is at present even difficult to get proper space for school premises. It 
may, however, be comparatively easy to find a space of ground if we confine our 
object to those mentioned under A in a preceding paragraph, as we need not then 
look beyond the school ground, playground, garden, public garden, or roadside. 
If, on the contrary, we want to attain at the same time economic advantages, a 
choice must be determined by the following considerations : 

"(a) Area. — A reasonable area is necessary, otherwise the space will be filled 
up very soon, which will make it impossible to continue the practice permanently 
or to utilize the land economically. 

" (b) Distance. — The ground must be selected as near as possible to the school, 
otherwise it will be difficult to induce schoolboys to go there on Memorial Day. 
It will also entail expense. Moreover, it would be difficult to let the boys visit the 
grove frequently for future research into the theory of tree growth and to enjoy 
the observation of the several stages in the growth of the plant. 

" (c) Location and surface of the ground. — Shrubby or grassy, steep or rocky 
land is objectionable on various grounds. But level ground being generally better 
utilized for farming, care must be taken not to employ it for this purpose, except 
in cases of sandy or poor ground fit only for forestry. 

" (d) Nature of soil. — Every seed, properly selected, will grow even in poor earth, 


unless it be rocky. But rich soil should be selected, because, in poor soil, growth 
being slow, schoolboys will fail to find pleasure in the natural development of the 
grove and will at last become indifferent. 

"Above all, it is of the utmost importance to bear in mind that this matter should 
be so effected as to secure to the boys more pleasure than pain, and this with the , 
greatest possible economical benefit. 

" (3) Selection of trees. — The trees planted must be those best adapted to the soil 
which will produce the greatest possible benefit. To attain the two objects men- 
tioned under A and B, the tree which will bear beautiful and fragrant flowers, or 
which will produce fine fruit, should be adopted. I should recommend pine, cedar, 
oak, camphor, etc. If a poor selection is made, the tree may not grow — may per- 
haps die — the boys will be disappointed, the teachers disheartened, and the expenses 
totally lost. 

" (4) Arbor Day or Memorial Day. — It is desirable to select for Arbor Day some 
day especially memorable ; but this is very difficult, as planting can not be done in 
every season, and trees planted out of the proper season generally die. The best 
way would therefore be to determine the date according to the respective localities 
and the kind of trees to be planted. The 11th of February (the day when our first 
Emperor ascended the throne) , the 3d of April (the day when the same Emperor 
died) , in the spring, and the 3d of November (the birthday of the present Emperor) , 
in the autumn, may be good. But thespring season is recommended as most suit- 
able for planting. 

"(5) Protection of young trees. — The choice of trees to be planted being made, 
the means of obtaining the shoots must be determined. The best way would be 
to let the boys sow the seed and take care of the plants by spading the ground, 
cutting the grass, manuring, etc., as may be required, until the plants have grown 
sufficiently to be safely transplanted. This will enable them to become familiar 
with the different kinds of seeds and the different stages of their growth, and will 
promote fondness for the plants. This method is also applicable to small spaces 
which do not admit of the growth of plantations, and will enable us to obtain the 
desired plants at the proper time and in desirable places, while giving an immense 
advantage on the other hand in attaining the object mentioned under A- If, under 
certain circumstances, it is impossible to let the boys care for the plants, we must 
depend upon reliable and experienced dealers. 

" (6) The mode of planting. — This must vary according to the kind of plants, the 
location and nature of the ground, and special care must be exercised in the trans- 
portation of the plants, cutting of the grass and prickly shrubs, and the tilling of 
the ground. Much depends upon the circumstances in each case, whether the boys 
have to do all the work, or whether they are to have assistance from coolies. If 
the boys do it all, those who supervise their work must fully consider details as to 
implements, and apportionment of space to planting, to the various classes of chil- 
dren, whether any and what distinction shall be made between male and female, 
between elder and younger, between higher and lower classes; whether shoots and 
modes of planting shall vary according to such distinctions. The growth of plants 
and the benefits resulting therefrom will differ greatly according as the manner 
of conducting the work is based upon the principles of forestry or not. 

"(7) Care and protection after planting. — It is better not to plant the shoots 
than to leave them without protection. To plant them is easy, but it is difficult 
to make them grow into large trees. All requisite precaution, such as cutting 
spreading grass, protection against insects and worms, provision against fire, sup- 
planting for decay, should be undertaken by the boys. But how boys are to 
undertake those precautionary measures, how they are to protect the tree for long 
years until it become fit to be cut as fuel, these are questions calling for special 

4 A 95 2» 


" There are many other points to be investigated, such as superintendence, con- 
trol, keeping of records, utilization of principal and secondary products, etc. 

"It would be improvident if, believing in the system of Arbor Day and approv- 
ing it as feasible, one should try to at once apply it in practice without full 
consideration of means and methods. It is not easy, as stated above, to start the 
plan, and it is very difficult to carry it out successfully. The plan, if undertaken 
without proper care and full consideration of means and methods, would result 
in needless trouble and expense, and we should be not only unable to obtain good 
results but every tree and every plant would die, and both boys and teachers 
would be disheartened in spite of great encouragement from the other side." 


This division, of which Dr. H. W. Wiley is chief, has received 1,420 
samples for analysis during the fiscal year. It has completed 613 of 
these analyses, and the unfinished samples, consisting almost entirely 
of specimens received from divisions of the Department, can be worked 
up when time is found. 

The investigation of food adulterations has been continued, being 
confined chiefly to the examination of cereal products and the manu- 
factured articles therefrom. No adulterations of cereal products with 
gypsum, terra alba, and the like have been found in this country as 
they have frequently been found in Europe. 

Active preparations have been made for carrying out "Investiga- 
tions relative to the various typical soils of the United States to de- 
termine their chemical characteristics, especially the nature of the 
nitrifying organism contained therein," provided for in recent appro- 
priation acts. The methods employed in the chemical and bacteri- 
ological examinations of soils have been systematized and studied. 
A vegetation house capable of holding about 200 pots for cultural 
purposes has been constructed and fully occupied. Through the 
cooperation of the experiment stations, samples of typical soils have 
been secured, and the chemical analyses, pot cultures, and bacterio- 
logical examinations are well under way. 


The people are frequently misled, by perverted references to the 
analyses of this division by advertisers of baking powders, food prod- 
ucts, etc., whose products have been analyzed in the course of inves- 
tigations of food adulterations or other official work. There can be 
no objection to advertisers referring to the published reports of the 
Department in support of the virtues of the wares they offer for sale, 
but exaggeration, perversion, suppression, and misstatement of facts, 
attributed to official authority, should not be allowed. In the hun- 
dreds of advertisements that have been noticed in which the work of 
this division has been referred to, there is scarcely a single case in 
which the facts were accurately set forth as officially published. 
There is, therefore, just reason for complaint. It seems to the 


Secretary of Agriculture that there should be some method adopted 
by means of which advertising misrepresentations of official analyses, 
intended originally to protect the people, could be prevented. 


The herbarium of the Department of Agriculture, commonly called 
the National Herbarium, having outgrown its old quarters, was, by 
the kind permission of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 
removed and well installed in the fireproof building of the National 
Museum, where it will be cared for by the botanists of this Depart- 
ment. This herbarium is steadily being built up and enlarged at the 
expense of the Department of Agriculture. 

This division, with Mr. Frederick V. Coville as chief, has continued 
its investigation upon weeds, pure seed, poisonous plants, and other 
subjects mentioned in the last report. Several bulletins have been 
published calling attention to dangerous weeds, and a general bulletin 
on "Weeds; and How to Kill Them" was issued in the series known 
as Farmers' Bulletins. In addition to illustrations and special re- 
marks regarding many of the weeds, it gives a tabular arrangement 
of the most important facts, from a practical standpoint, concerning 
about 100 of our common weeds, with brief instructions as to the best 
method of their eradication. A bulletin has also been prepared on 
the subject of weed legislation, consisting of the laws now in force in 
the different States, and suggestions for similar legislation by other 


The seed-testing laboratory of this division is doing much to educate 
American farmers, seed producers, and dealers in seeds with regard 
to the best methods of harvesting, cleaning, and preparing for market 
the various commercial seeds, as well as the simpler means for testing 
their purity and germinating power. The special investigation of 
clover seed grown in this country has been continued. The methods 
of handling and growing seed have been carefully studied, and a report 
on this subject will be published at an early date, which it is hoped 
will materially assist the producers of this seed, the demand for which 
is steadily growing abroad. Seeds purchased by the Department of 
Agriculture for distribution during the fiscal year 1895 were all sub- 
mitted to purity and germination tests, but as the number of these 
seeds was very great few of them could be finished before the seeds 
had to be sent out. Many of the varieties showed a surprisingly low 
percentage of germination, and evidences of fraud were detected. 

The work upon grasses and forage plants has been separated from 
the Division of Botany and has been placed in charge of a new divi- 
sion called the Division of Agrostology, which will be spoken of in 
another place. 

The work on poisonous plants has been continued by a careful study 


of laurel poisoning and the Western leatherwood, and a number of 
medicinal plants have been taken up for investigation. 


In accordance with the recommendations of the Secretary of Agri- 
culture in his report for 1894, the act making appropriations for the 
Department for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1896, contained a 
special provision for the Division of Agrostology. This division was 
organized July 1, when the act providing for its establishment went 
into effect, with Prof. F. Lamson-Seribner as its chief. The work of 
this division is devoted to the investigation of grasses and forage 
plants and experiments in the culture of our native species, as well 
as those of other countries which may be profitably introduced into 
the United States. These plants will be studied both scientifically 
and economically. The nature and the distribution of the various 
kinds will be considered, as well as their economic value and adapt- 
ability to special uses or to various soils and climates. The chief aim 
of the division will be to instruct and familiarize the people with the 
habits and uses of all forage plants by the publication of circulars, 
bulletins, and reports. The importance of this work is attested by 
the vast interests of our country which are dependent upon the 
products of our meadows and pastures. 


Two experimental grass stations have already been established for 
the purpose of enabling this division to effectively prosecute special 
lines of work in the cultivation of the several kinds and to bring under 
direct and intelligent observation the numerous native and cultivated 
grasses and forage plants. These gardens afford opportunity for the 
proper investigation of the nature and peculiar habits of growth of 
these plants, and to determine in a large degree their actual or prob- 
able value to agriculture. About 400 different varieties have been 
grown upon these gardens during the present season, and some of the 
native sorts tried have proved of interest. The true buffalo grass of 
the Western plains is one of these. Its cultivation in the grass garden 
has been a marked success, the grass forming in a comparatively short 
period a dense and pleasing sod completely covering the plat assigned to 
it. As this grass is more hardy than the somewhat similar Bermuda 
grass of the South, it may possess no less value for the Middle and 
Western States than is claimed for the latter in more southern latitudes. 

When domesticated it may prove of great value because of its 
ability to withstand drought and its superior nutrient qualities. It 
is intended that a larger area of ground shall be set aside for the en- 
largement and continuation of experiments in grass and forage-plant 
culture, the results of which may prove of incalculable benefit to the 
farmers and stock growers of the United States. 



Special studies have been made of the grasses and forage plants 
of the Rocky Mountain regions and of the prairie regions of Iowa, 
Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, with a view to preparing a report 
upon the actual and prospective forage conditions of these sections 
of our country. A preliminary report has been published, giving 
the results of the examination of the grasses and forage plants of the 
Southeastern States, and circulars have been issued upon Hungarian 
brome grass, flat pea, sachaline, experimental grass gardens, and a 
Farmers' Bulletin on alfalfa, or lucern; other papers of a similar 
nature are in course of preparation, also an illustrated handbook of 
all the grasses of the United States. 


Each year develops more intelligent interest and inquiry in the 
production of better hay and fodder plants. The money value of the 
hay crop for 1894 was estimated at nearly a half billion of dollars. 
With more intelligent selection of hay plants cultivated the average 
production might have been 2 tons per acre, instead of 1.14 tons. 
That would have added 41,396,483 tons to the total crop of the year, 
and increased its cash value, based upon the low average price of 
$8.54 per ton for 1894, by $353,575,090. 

The hay crop in the United Kingdom of Great Britain was a disas- 
trous failure in the year 1893. As a consequence, the United States 
sold to the British during that year 124,390 tons of hay, while during 
the year 1895 we have exported to that country only 28,056 tons. On 
October 15 of this year prices of hay in London were $12 to $20 a ton. 
Though a superior article from the United States or Canada was sold 
upon that date at about $20 a ton, it is not expected that this price 
will encourage exports from this country, where the 1895 crop is below 

an average. 


The work of this division, of which Prof. B. T. Galloway is chief, 
has been broadened during the year to include plant physiology. It 
is believed that this will add materially to the value of the investiga- 
tions. Owing to the crowded condition of the main building and the 
need of necessary facilities for work, new quarters were secured for 
the division early in February. The buildings now occupied are sit- 
uated only a short distance from the Department proper, and are 
provided with necessary facilities for laboratory investigations. A 
greenhouse for conducting experimental work has also been provided. 
This adds greatly to the opportunities for work, especially in matters 
of interest to florists, market gardeners, and all others engaged in 
intensive agriculture. Work commenced last year on wilt diseases, 
which affect the potato, tomato, eggplant, and cotton in the South, and 
it is progressing satisfactorily. Experiments carried on in the field, 


laboratory, and greenhouse have thrown much light on the causes of 
the diseases and the best methods of preventing them. 

It is most pleasing to announce that the work on pear blight, 
which has been under way for some time, has evolved a thorough 
knowledge of the organism which causes that disease, and also in the 
discovery of a means to easily and cheaply prevent it. A bulletin 
on the subject is in the course of preparation, and will soon be ready 
for distribution. 

During the year over one thousand varieties of wheats were tested 
by the division ; the object sought being to discover their respective 
values in the matter of resisting rust and in their milling qualities. 
Crosses have been made with some of the moi'e promising forms. 
They will be given a further trial and on a more extended scale. 

The work on citrus diseases has been continued with very satis- 
factory results. Remedies and preventives for a number of the 
most serious have been found, and these findings will soon appear in 
a bulletin. 

On the Pacific Coast, diseases affecting the peach, almond, apricot, 
apple, and grape have been studied. A successful method for the 
prevention of peach-leaf curl has been discovered, and a detailed 
account thereof will soon be published. 

The complete and instructive exhibit of the division at the Atlanta 
International and Cotton States Exposition will, it is believed, be 
very useful to farmers, fruit growers, and others. In this exhibit the 
diseases affecting cotton, citrus fruits, and other crops of special 
interest to the South, are made a special feature. 


This division has continued, under the direction of its chief, Mr. S. 
B. Heiges, the systematic examination and comparison of supposed 
new varieties of fruits sent to it for identification, and has prepared 
careful studies and descriptions of the new specimens, illustrating 
them in most cases either with water-color sketches or colored models. 
These descriptions are carefully filed and must in time prove of great 
value. They will eventually make it possible to publish an authori- 
tative work on the fruits of the United States. 

The introduction and distribution of new varieties of .fruits have 
been continued, the effort, however, being confined to the compara- 
tively few varieties of fruits of great value not at present found in 
our country, but promising to do well here. Cions of many of these 
have been placed with experiment stations and sent to private experi- 
menters for the purpose of determining their adaptability to various 


Among the more important varieties that have been introduced are 
65 new specimens of figs received from the Royal Horticultural Society 


of England. For the present these varieties are being propagated in 
different places for the purpose of testing further their adaptability 
to our climate and soils and for producing a larger number of cuttings 
for distribution. It is believed that there is a large area of country 
within the United States adapted to the growth of figs and that it will 
be sufficient to supply our entire demand for this delicious fruit. 

Other important importations consisted of 29 varieties of the 
choicest apples of Austria-Hungary, which have been grafted upon 
seedling stocks for the purpose of propagation. It is proposed to 
distribute these trees to the experiment stations as soon as they are 
in proper condition. Efforts have also been made to introduce 
improved and hardy varieties of persimmons from northern China 
and the citron of commerce from Italy. 


Considerable experimental work has also been undertaken. Prom- 
inent among these tests are experiments made with full-rooted and 
top-cut and lower-cut grafting in the propagation of apple trees. 
These experiments will be continued, and possibly on a larger scale. 
It is intended that trees grown from grafts as above described be 
distributed in different States and localities for testing. Varieties 
varying in habits of growth and longevity will be chosen. Generally 
they will be of standard varieties, like the Winesap, Albemarle, 
Pippin, Ben Davis, Oldenburg, Jonathan, and Northern Spy. Under 
this system of experimentation a few years will demonstrate whether 
whole roots, top cuts, or bottom cuts for grafting cions upon are most 
conducive to vigor of growth and longevity. 

Special effort is being made to interest the State experiment stations 
in these and similar subjects and to secure their assistance in collect- 
ing new and comparatively unknown varieties of fruits. It is desired 
to develop some regular plan of cooperation by which the horticul- 
turists of these stations shall collect new seedling varieties or other 
novelties and forward them to this division for identification, descrip- 
tion, illustration, and preservation. Some central record office of this 
kind is absolutely necessary, and should be located in the Department 
of Agriculture. 



The economic value of apples for export is becoming more generally 
known to the horticulturists and farmers of the United States. Each 
year their exportation to Europe increases in quantity, quality, and 
value. Good winter apples, carefully selected and properly packed, 
always meet with a favorable reception and command good prices in 
Great Britain and on the Continent. Among the best known of Ameri- 
can varieties on the other side of the water are the Baldwins, King 


of Tompkins County, Ribston Pippins, Northern Spy, and various 
russets. But there is no doubt that the Winesap, Jonathan, Green- 
ing, Ben Davis, and Vandever Pippin, together with many other well- 
known varieties from the orchards of the United States, would be very 
acceptable and always secure for their shippers fair prices and profits. 
The most successful shipments of apples are made in New York bar- 
rels, which carry about 3 bushels and weigh about 112 pounds. The 
freight upon each of these barrels from American to European ports 
averages less than a dollar. During the fiscal year ended June 30, 
1895, we shipped 818,711 barrels of apples abroad, valued at $1,954,318. 
The following table shows our exports of apples, green or ripe, and 
dried, for the fiscal years ended June 30, 1893, 1894, and 1895, and the 
three months ended September, 1895 : 


Green or ripe. 



















Export shipments of apples from any of the States east of the 
Rocky Mountains can be made remunerative. The apple among 
fruits is as staple and universally demanded as beef among meats. 
The variety which has sold for the highest price in British markets is 
the Albemarle Pippin, which is successfully grown to its greatest per- 
fection in the State of Virginia. This variety has at times netted the 
growers $7 a barrel in the orchards. It is a remarkably fine keeper, 
of delicious flavor and beautiful coloring. The profits of intelligent 
horticulture along the Atlantic Seaboard can not well be overesti- 
mated. The success in foreign marts of the Pacific States fruit 
growers and shippers, laboring under the disadvantage of a rail 
carriage from the Pacific to the Atlantic, should stimulate all horti- 
culturists this side of the Rocky Mountains to further secure sales 
for their products in Europe. The peaches of Delaware, Maryland, 
and most of the Southern States along the Atlantic Coast would cer- 
tainly reach the London market in as good condition, if properly put 
up, as those from California. 


California fruits have made marked gains in European markets dur- 
ing the last year. This trade began three years ago by a shipment on 
the White Star Line, which consisted of pears, peaches, plums, and 
grapes. The sale of that invoice at Covent Garden Market attracted 
public attention at the time, and the prices were so remunerative 
as to encourage further shipments. The succeeding year, however, 


satisfactory terms could not be made for railroad and steamship trans- 
portation ; consequently no shipments of California fruits were made 
during those twelve months to transatlantic markets. 

But in the year 1894 the American Steamship Company carried over 
quite a number of fruit invoices. The results were satisfactory gen- 
erally as to prices and profits upon the pears and peaches, while the 
traffic in grapes was not such as to induce further shipments of that 
fruit from the Pacific Coast. 

A representative of the Department of Agriculture during the past 
summer attended the California fruit sales at Covent Garden. From 
that attendance he concludes that the California Fruit Transportation 
Company has solved the freight problem and that only the finest qual- 
ity of fruit can be remuneratively sent abroad; even then sound con- 
dition and careful packing, and their arrival at London between the 
1st day of July and the last day of August, can alone secure the best 
prices in competition with English and continental growers. 

During the year 1895 the first lot of California fruit arrived in Lon- 
don on the 1st day of July. It met competing fruits from southern 
France, the Channel Islands, and Spain, together with fair specimens 
of English products, in a very propitious season. On that date fine 
English hothouse peaches sold at 15 cents each, with fair to common 
qualities at 5 to 3 cents each. All of the California fruit arriving on 
the date mentioned above consisted of Bartlett pears (in England 
called the Williams pear) and of peaches. They arrived in fine con- 
dition; the Bartletts brought from $5 to $6.25 per box of 50 pounds, 
and the peaches sold at an average of $2.50 per box of 25 pounds. 
The pears retailed at from 4 to 5 cents each, and the peaches at from 
6 to 12 cents. 

The second arrival in the same market of California fruit was July 15. 
At this date the pears brought from $3 to $3.50 per box of 50 pounds, 
and the peaches and plums from $1.70 to $2 per box of 25 pounds. 

The third arrival was on August 1, when the peaches and pears com- 
manded about the same prices as in the previous shipments to the same 

The fourth California fruit invoice was received in London the 
middle of August. It was an unusually large consignment and con- 
sisted of 10 carloads. Pears in this lot, in perfect condition, sold as 
high as $2.80 per box. The peaches brought only $1 to $1.50 per box. 

The fifth shipment of Pacific Slope fruit arrived in England on the 
last day of August. The late peaches were in very fine condition and 
gave the best satisfaction to dealers, but the prices were not as good 
as expected, as they ranged from $1.20 to $1.80 a box, according to 
quality. The pears ran from $1.50 to $3 per box. 

The sixth shipment reached London in the month of September, 
via Southampton, where it was unloaded from the steamer Paris on 
Wednesday night and placed on sale in Covent Garden MarKet on 


Friday morning. Buyers were eager to get hold of the late pears. 
They were in great demand, because of the satisfaction which the fruit 
of the two previous shipments had given. A large number of intend- 
ing buyers were gathered about the auctioneer. The liveliest interest 
was displayed. The fruits were divided into lots representing dif- 
ferent growers, one kind of fruit in each assortment. The boxes, 
made of the lightest possible durable material, were labeled with the 
names of the respective packers. The peach boxes contained 25 
pounds. Each peach was wrapped in white paper, single thickness, 
a little heavier and tougher than tissue paper. The plums, not 
wrapped singly, were in similar boxes divided into small compart- 
ments. The pears were in 50-pound boxes and separately wrapped, 
though pears in 25-pound boxes bring a much better price. Under 
this system of selling, the reputation of some growers commanded 
special interest and higher prices from buyers. Those who desire to 
maintain a high standard of excellence, and decline under any temp- 
tation to send inferior fruits, and who use the most scrupulous care 
in packing, find their reward at last in a reputation which commands 
enhanced prices for their products. 

The average quality of the peaches at this sale was very good. 
The Orange Clings seemed to be a favorite, while the late Crawfords 
in fairly good condition and Strawberry peaches did not seem to 
stand the transportation as well. The fruits from the hill counties 
of California were in firmer and better condition than those from the 

Among pears, the Beurre Clairgeau and Hardys arrived in excel- 
lent order, and brought prime prices, while some Bon Chretiens were 
also highly appreciated. 

For a new branch of international commerce — one requiring great 
care and perfection in shipments — the exportation of California fruits 
to London has been quite as successful as could have been expected. 
The business is in its infancy, and has, if properly managed, a profit- 
able future. Shippers must remember that there is always a market 
in London for such luxuries; that no fruit should be sent there 
except when in perfect condition and properly packed, and that, gen- 
erally, prices will be more remunerative for early fruits. However, 
shipments were to arrive in London in September and October of this 
year, and it is possible that they will show better prices than some of 
the others, because they will meet with less competition from English 
and French and other continental fruits. 

Fruit growers on the Pacific Coast, however, have special oppor- 
tunities open to them in foreign markets for dried fruits, prunes, and 
raisins, and for brandies and wines. These particular industries 
need only be cultivated with energy and intelligence to achieve great 
results, and their development is earnestly commended to growers in 
that section. 



The work of this division, of which Mr. L. O. Howard is chief, is 
grouped under the following heads: Investigations upon special 
insects; experiments with insecticides and insecticide machinery; 
determination of insects sent in by agricultural experiment stations 
and others and giving advice with regard to them ; abstracting and 
cataloguing the literature of insects; scientific work upon groups of 
insects which have a bearing upon agriculture; special investigations. 
It will only be possible to mention here a few of the many valuable 
services rendered by this division. 


A new insect (AntJionomus grandis) which appeared in the cotton 
fields of south Texas, damaging the squares and bolls and ruining both 
fiber and seed, received especial attention during the year. The insect 
was found to be a species which had been brought across from Mexico, 
and so was commonly called the Mexican cotton-boll weevil. Through 
an agent sent into southwest Texas and into Mexico to study the his- 
tory of this insect a careful investigation of the subject was made and 
a preliminary report has been published for the purpose of giving the 
people of this section proper warning. A complete report will be 
published during the coming winter. It is now hoped that the early 
fears as to the possible spread of the species throughout the entire 
cotton belt of the United States will not be realized, and that a toler- 
ably efficient remedy for the prevention of the spread of the insect in 
south Texas has already been ascertained. 


Special efforts have been made to ascertain the exact points in the 
Southern States at which the San Jose, or pernicious, scale of fruit 
trees had established itself, and extensive experiments have been 
carried on for the purpose of ascertaining the best methods of com- 
bating this very destructive insect. Some progress has been made, 
and a bulletin on the subject will be published at an early day. In 
connection with this investigation, new studies have been made of all 
the principal scale insects of the orchard. 

The edition of the report published ten years ago on insects affect- 
ing the orange having been exhausted, a new report on this subject 
has been ordered and is now rapidly approaching completion. This 
report will include consideration of all insects which affect citrus 
plants in other parts of the world than the United States, as they are 
all liable to be introduced into our country. 


Research has been made to determine the geographic distribution of 
injurious insects appearing in devastating numbers. The localities in 


which they have appeared have been platted and the records of their 
damages carefully collated. With such data in hand, the entomologist 
will be able to predict the geographic lines at which the progress of 
certain species will stop and to advise agriculturists with some degree 
of certainty as to the possibility of the appearance of well-known 
insect pests in any given locality. The minor subjects of investigation 
have been insects injurious to shade trees, local outbreaks of the 
American and other locusts in different parts of the country, the cotton 
or melon plant louse, the currant-stem girdler, etc. 

The work of this division in bee ciilture has been concluded with 
the completion of the manual on apiculture, which is now going 
through the press. 

Experiments with insecticides and insecticide machinery cover such 
subjects as the effect of different arsenical poisons upon insects and 
upon the foliage and other parts of plants, the use of hydrocyanic 
acid gas against insects, new devices for spraying, etc. 

Since the new insects which sprung into prominence as destructive 
species have to be classified, described, and named before they can be 
intelligently considered in popular publications, several competent 
assistants are preparing monographs on groups of such insects. 


The name of this division is unfortunate, as it conveys an erro- 
neous idea of the nature of its work. The division, of which Dr. C. 
Hart Merriam is chief, is in effect a biological survey, and should be 
so named, for its principal occupation is the preparation of large scale 
maps of North America, showing the boundaries of the different 
faunas and floras, or life areas. In fact, Congress, in 1890, author- 
ized this division to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the 
geographic distribution of animals and plants; thus in effect estab- 
lishing a biological survey. These maps when completed will show 
the farmer and fruit grower the areas on which particular kinds of 
grasses, grains, vegetables, and fruits may and may not be cultivated 
with success; thus saving the large sums of money now expended 
annually in futile efforts to make crops grow in places climatically 
unsuited to their needs. They will be further useful in indicating 
the areas subject to and those exempt from the ravages of destructive 
insects and other pests, and also those in which certain diseases of 
plants and animals are likely to flourish. 

Within the Department these maps are helpful in many ways, serv- 
ing as an intelligent basis for that part of the work of the divisions 
of Forestry, Botany, Agrostology, Pomology, Entomology, Vegetable 
Pathology, and Bureau of Animal Industry which relates to the geo- 
graphic distribution of the forms they study. 

In the preparation of faunal maps three kinds of work are neces- 
sary: (1) Field work, in collecting specimens and tracing the actual 


limits of distribution by running lines across the country; (2) office 
work, in platting on maps the results of the field work; and (3) labora- 
tory work, in determining the status of animals in groups that have 
not been worked up ; for it is obviously impossible to map the distribu- 
tion of a species which has not been discriminated from related species 
that may inhabit adjacent areas. 

So far as preliminary work is concerned the biological survey has 
been already extended over the greater part of the United States 
except eastern Oregon, north and central Nevada, parts of New Mex- 
ico and Texas, and some of the Eastern States. In addition, a detailed 
survey has been made, with a degree of accuracy equal to or exceed- 
ing that of the best topographic maps available, of large parts of Cal- 
ifornia, western Oregon and Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, 
South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, and a number of the Southern States. 

Of all the life zones entering the United States, the Austral, which 
covers the southern tier of States and much of California, is of 
greatest importance, because of the large number of specially valua- 
ble crops — as cotton, rice, sugar cane, the citrus fruits, raisin grape, 
fig, olive, and almond — that grow within it. The northern boundary 
of both arid and humid divisions of this zone have been followed 
completely across the continent and shown on maps prepared by 
the division. The final maps of the life zones, when available to the 
intelligent farmer and fruit grower, are likely to save the country 
each year far more than the total cost of maintaining the division. 

The more strictly economic work relates to the food habits of our 
native birds and mammals. These are studied in the field and their 
stomachs are examined in the laboratory in order to ascertain the 
normal food of the different species. In this way the beneficial kinds 
are known from the injurious, and the results are published in special 
bulletins. Those thus far issued treat of the English sparrow, crow, 
crow-blackbird, woodpeckers, hawks, and owls, pocket gophers, and 
ground squirrels. 


This division, which was organized eighteen months ago as a divi- 
sion of the Weather Bureau, with Prof. Milton Whitney as chief, has 
now been taken out of that Bureau in accordance with the recom- 
mendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and the act of the last 
Congress and given an independent organization. As also pro- 
vided in the appropriation act, it is now accommodated in a building 
convenient to the Department, which was rented and rearranged 
for its special use. 


While the Division of Chemistry has been making a study of the 
chemical properties of soils and of the bacteria which prepare nitro- 
gen for plants, this division has been investigating the physical and 


mechanical properties of soils. It is rarely that a new line of work 
like this proves as fruitful of good results in such an early stage of 
its operations. By it public attention has been called to the fact, for 
example, that irrigation has frequently to be resorted to solely for the 
lack of proper preparation of the soil to receive and hold the winter 
and spring rains. The gradual destruction by cultivation of the 
humus stored in the prairie soils has made them less and less reten- 
tive of moisture, and thus created the necessity for different methods 
of culture which shall enable them to hold water for the crops. The 
diminished rainfall several years in succession has also thoroughly 
disposed the farmers of the West to consider any well-conceived 
measures or recommendations for the amelioration of existing con- 
ditions. The work of the Division of Soils in calling attention to 
and emphasizing the fact that at least a partial remedy for this 
condition is to be found in subsoiling, has attracted widespread 
attention and been followed by most gratifying results. Several of 
the experiment stations, notably that of Nebraska^ have undertaken 
. similar investigations and made practical studies of subsoiling, and 
the practice is gaining in favor so rapidly that leading plow manu- 
facturers are making plows especially for subsoiling purposes. 

Other subjects which have occupied the attention of this division 
were the examination and classification of soils of some of the principal 
agricultural areas of the country, the working out of methods for the 
study of the physical properties of soils and the effect of fertilizers 
thereon, and the adaptation of soils to particular crops. 


Under the instruction of the Secretary of Agriculture the division is 
cooperating with a number of States in the study of their local soils 
and their conditions. A regular system of soil observation is being 
organized by the employment of observers in the principal agricul- 
tural regions of the country, and the records of their results are 
tabulated and published for the information of those interested. 

The Secretary of Agriculture believes that it is by work of this 
practical character that the Department can promote the great 
interests it is designed to serve. 


Mr. C. W. Irish, chief of the Office of Irrigation Inquiry, has devoted 
much time to the further personal examination and investigation of the 
different methods of irrigation practiced in Utah, Nevada, Nebraska, 
and some of the arid and subhumid regions. He has not yet com- 
pleted his report; but considerable progress has been made with it, 
and it is believed that the Department will speedily be in position to 
render important didactic service to that large and increasing body of 
agriculturists who are farming irrigated lands. Inquiries are received 


from time to time as to tlie best methods of overcoming the various 
difficulties that are encountered in the artificial application of water 
to soil under the widely varying conditions which obtain in the far 
West, and the most reliable information in the possession of the 
Department is promptly afforded to the thousands who seek it. The 
Secretary of Agriculttire realizes that only by irrigation can many of 
the richest soils of the United States ever be successfully brought 
under cultivation, but he strongly deprecates any appropriation of the 
public money or any alienation of the public domain as a subsidy for 
the attempted solution of irrigation problems, which are, in his opinion, 
pressed upon the country years before their time and years before the 
best interests of the country can be served by their consideration and 
determination. With almost a superabundance of agricultural prod- 
ucts in our home markets at reasonably low prices, public funds out 
of taxes gathered largely from existing farms and farmers can not 
justly be appropriated from the Treasury of the United States to 
create competing farms. 


The work of this office under Gen. Roy Stone, chief of Road Inquiry, 
has proceeded steadily during the year, in accordance with the pro- 
visions of the act making the appropriation, and has included inves- 
tigations in regard to the best methods of road making, road legisla- 
tion, and especially the condition of the country roads of the United 

Improved road construction is progressing in many of the States, 
notably in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Kentucky. 
More than half the States have passed new road laws within the last 
year, and there is a general effort to ascertain the best methods for 
developing the country roads, for using the county prisoners or State 
convicts for this purpose, and for organizing State commissions to 
look after these matters. 

Special attention is called to the results of the inquiry made by this 
office into the cost of hauling farm products to market, compiled from 
data received from 1,160 counties, contained in the report of the 
special agent in charge, accompanying this document. The facts 
cited show lucidly the great expenses entailed by bad roads and the 
great value of good ones, and should do much to awaken the farmers 
of this country to the importance of this subject. 

The office is also compiling a national map, on a large scale, to show 
all the macadamized and gravel roads in the United States. Upon 
this map new roads are laid down as fast as they are built and reported 
to this office by the county clerks or surveyors. Such a map will, when 
finished, be of great value. The maps of Pennsylvania, Indiana, and 
New Jersey are already sufficiently advanced to present most inter- 
esting facts, and those of other States are progressing. 


The office has published directions for building improved roads, 
compilation of road laws, information regarding road material and 
transportation rates for the same, the proceedings of road conven- 
tions, and much other useful information for free distribution among 
the people. 

It is proposed during the coming year to secure the cooperation of 
agricultural colleges and experiment stations in the object-lesson 
method of disseminating this information. They will be taught to 
construct model roads on the farms of their experiment stations or on 
their college grounds, where they can be regularly used, and thus 
become a lesson to all the farmers who visit them. 

Public interest in the whole subject of road improvement has 
become thoroughly aroused, and a feeling of great hopefulness has 
been developed. The usefulness of a central good-roads propaganda 
such as this office affords has been amply illustrated. 


The decline of the price of cotton and the successful establish- 
ment in this country of ramie manufacturing has called increased 
attention to the cultivation of this plant. Correspondence with ref- 
erence to it has been very large, and has necessitated the publica- 
tion of a special report on the subject in addition to the paper in the 
last Yearbook. The great desideratum is still a practical ramie decor- 
ticating machine. Recognizing this, the Department has endeavored, 
in the line of its duty, to assist by study and suggestions in perfect- 
ing practical apparatus for this purpose. In cooperation with the 
Louisiana experiment station it has tested a number of new machines. 
These trials showed gratifying progress in their construction, and 
though they have not yet produced a perfect machine, it is confidently 
believed that American inventors will at last successfully solve this 

Experiments in the production of flax in the region of Puget Sound, 
Washington, have been continued during the year on a larger and 
more comprehensive scale with the cooperation of farmers in several 
sections of the State. Some very fine samples of straw have been 
submitted, which encourages a hope for satisfactory final results. 
The interest in the profitable growth of flax has been much stimulated 
in this region. In evidence, it is said that a considerable area will be 
planted with this crop next season. In furtherance of this interest, 
a Farmers' Bulletin was published on "Flax for Seed and Fiber," 
which has been successfully circulated with- good results in sections 

Other fibers which have been subject to more or less inquiry are 
sisal hemp, pineapple fiber, jute, and the common hemp of the North. 

A descriptive catalogue of the world's fibers is in preparation by Mr. 
Charles Richards Dodge, the special agent in charge of this work. 



The Division of Microscopy was established in the Department of 
Agriculture twenty years ago, when this art was considered a sepa- 
rate branch of technology. Since that time the microscope has come 
into daily, almost hourly, use in nearly all scientific laboratories. A 
separate Division of Microscopy in this Department has thus become 
an absurdity. The Department of Agriculture during the last fiscal 
year used at least 500 microscopists of one class or another outside of 
the Division of Microscopy to the one in it. This division, having 
completed a line of investigations on edible fungi, the butter fats used 
for adulterating purposes, the textile fibers, and one or two other sub- 
jects which it had undertaken some years ago, was abolished on the 
1st of July, 1895. The apparatus and material pertaining to fungi - 
were turned over to the Division of Vegetable Pathology, which makes 
a special study of fungi and fungous diseases of plants; the material 
pertaining to food adulterations was turned over to the Division of 
Chemistry, which by law is charged with the investigation of this 
subject; and the material belonging to textile fibers was turned over 
to the Office of Fiber Investigations. These divisions will continue 
to attend to any investigations needed under these heads. 


The Division of Publications is in charge of Mr. George William 
Hill, who has managed and directed its affairs from the day of its 
inception. During the fiscal year, under his vigilant supervision, 254 
publications have been issued, including 120 reprints. The total 
number of copies of bulletins, pamphlets, and other publications 
aggregates more than 4,000,000. Together they make 420,000,000 
printed pages, each page containing more than 500 words. Thus the 
Department of Agriculture has issued in a single year, gratuitously 
and promiscuously, under present laws, more than six printed pages 
for every man, woman, and child in the United States. This vast 
volume of reading matter, given free of cost to all who asked for it 
and mailed postage free to the donees wherever they might be, caused 
the disbursement of a large sum of public money for paper and print- 
ing alone. The regular annual report, averaging nearly 40 ounces per 
volume, made more than 600 tons weight for gratuitous delivery in 
the various States and Territories by the Post-Office Department. 

A careful comparative estimate shows that the total weight of publi- 
cations, other than the annual report, aggregated 200 tons. Thus this 
Department alone has given 800 tons weight to the postal authorities 
for gratuitous transportation. 


In view of the above facts it is again recommended that all publi- 
cations issued by the Department be furnished to such citizens only 
as will pay for their net cost and added postage, and that gratuitous 


distribution be confined to public libraries and benevolent and. edu- 
cational institutions, with the exception of such publications as may 
be for specific purposes and properly termed "exigency" or "emer- 
gency " documents. Under the present system many secure publica- 
tions who do not need them for practical purposes, and those who 
would put them to good use are frequently unable to get them 
because editions have been exhausted by the former class. To-day 
almost any Government publication, no matter when it was published 
or how rare or valuable it may have become, can be purchased in 
second-hand and other book stores in nearly all the larger cities of 
the country. There is not time to detail here the extravagance and 
needlessness of the present system. At this writing the Department 
has knowledge of the sale of the Yearbook issued in September by 
booksellers, and learns of the proposed sale of the same in large lots 
at $5 per 100. It is enough to suggest that the annual deficiencies of 
the Post-Office Department are largely attributable to this unwise 
distribution. With great satisfaction reference is made and public 
attention called to the report of the chief of this division. 


Under the direction of Mr. M. E. Fagan, chief of the Seed Division, 
there were gratuitously and promiscuously distributed during the 
last fiscal year, in accordance with a long-prevailing practice, about 
10,000,000 papers of flower and vegetable seeds. His report, together 
with that of Enos S. Harnden, the authorized purchasing agent of 
seed for the Department, is submitted and published. Together they 
give a detailed account of the purchase and distribution of the seed, 
which involved the deadheading in the United States mails of 270 
tons weight. 

After the adjournment of the Fifty-third Congress inquiry was 
made at the Department of Justice as to the legality of purchasing 
any other than seeds "rare and uncommon to the country," etc. The 
following letter from the honorable the Attorney-General of the 
United States answered and settled the question: 

Department of Justice, 

Washington, D. C, April SO, 1895. 
The Secretary of Agriculture. 

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge yours of the 18th instant, in which yon 
call my attention to a portion of the act making appropriations for the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1896, and approved March 
2, 1895, and running as follows: "Division of Seeds — Purchase and distribution of 
valuable seeds, and for the printing, publication, and distribution of Farmers' 
Bulletins : For the purchase, propagation, and distribution, as required by law, of 
valuable seeds, bulbs, trees, shrubs, vines, cuttings, etc., one hundred and eighty 
thousand dollars." 

You make two inquiries, as follows: 

" Can the Secretary of Agriculture legally purchase any other seeds than those 
described in section 527 of the Revised Statutes, to wit, seeds ' rare and uncommon 


to the country, or such as can be made more profitable by frequent changes from 
one part of our own country to another,' under authority of the act of March 3, 

"Would It be proper and lawful for the Secretary of Agriculture, in view of 
the verbiage of the act of March 2, 1895, and the wording of section 527 of the 
Revised Statutes, to advertise for proposals to furnish the Department of Agricul- 
ture seeds, bulbs, trees, vines, cuttings, and plants 'rare and uncommon to the 
country, or such as can be made more profitable by frequent changes from one 
part of our own country to another,' reserving the right to reject any and all 

1. The seeds purchasable under the act of March 2, 1895, are limited to those 
described in section 527 of the Revised Statutes — there being no reasonable ground 
for claiming that the act of March 2, 1895, operates, or was intended to operate, 
as a repeal of the earlier statute. 

2. If not obligatory upon the Secretary of Agriculture to purchase seeds, trees, 
etc., conformably to section 3709 of the Revised Statutes, it is certainly competent 
for him to make the purchases conformably to said statute, the right to reject any 
and all bids being reserved. But the form of the question is such that I think it 
proper to call attention to the fact that while seeds purchased must be such as are 
"rare and uncommon to the country, or such as can be made more profitable by 
frequent changes from one part of our own country to another," the trees, plants, 
shrubs, vines, and cuttings to be purchased are such " as are adapted to general 
cultivation and to promote the general interests of horticulture and agriculture 
throughout the United States." 

Respectfully, yours, Richard Olney, Attorney-General. 

And the following advertisement was immediately inserted in the 
legally required number of newspapers : 


United States Department of Agriculture, 

Office of the Secretary, 
Washington, D. C, April 27, 1895. 
In accordance with section 527 of the Revised Statutes, which authorizes the 
purchase of "seeds rare and uncommon to the country, or such as can be made 
more profitable by frequent changes from one part of our own country to another, " 
also "such trees, plants, shrubs, vines, and cuttings as are adapted to general cul- 
tivation, and to promote the general interests of horticulture and agriculture 
throughout the United States," and in accordance with the terms of the appropri- 
ation (act approved March 2, 1895) for the purchase and distribution of valuable 
seeds, "as required by law," sealed proposals, in duplicate, subject to the usual 
conditions, will be received by the Secretary of Agriculture until 2 p.m., July 1, 
1895, for supplying to the United States Department of Agriculture during the fiscal 
year ending June 30, 1896, and to be delivered before November 1, 1895, such valu- 
able seeds, trees, plants, shrubs, vines, and cuttings as are covered by section 527 
of the Revised Statutes quoted above. Persons submitting bids should specify 
the kind and varieties, with full description of each variety, of seeds and plants 
upon which they desire to submit bids and the quantities they are prepared to 
contract for, and must guarantee delivery of the same in Washington. The right 
is reserved to reject any or all bids. 

J. Sterling Morton, Secretary. 

There were only three bids made under the above, and they were 
passed upon and rejected by a committee, as follows: 

Washington, D. C, July 6, 1895. 
The Secretary of Agriculture. 

Sir: The undersigned board, appointed by you on July 1, 1895, to open and 
examine bids for seeds to be furnished this Department for distribution according 


to law, during the fiscal year ending July 1, 1896, have the honor to report that 
we have opened and examined the bids received and find that the same do not 
meet the requirements of the advertisement as printed, and therefore respectfully 
recommend that all bids be rejected. 

Respectfully, yours, Enos S. Harnden. 

F. L. Evans. 

J. B. Bennett. 

The various divisions of the Department had been for a long time 
crowded for want of proper office rooms. Therefore the first story of 
the large building heretofore mostly occupied by the Seed Division 
was at once, under the law providing for such emergencies, speedily 
transformed into apartments for the Division of Entomology and the 
Division of Ornithology and Mammalogy, and immediately occupied 
by the chiefs and clerks thereof. In this way the library room of the 
main building of the Department has been relieved from a congestion 
of accumulated specimens, books, and other property which hereto- 
fore lumbered up the galleries of that room in various unsightly 
pine-board partitions. The two divisions named have, for the first 
time since their existence, been properly housed and decently pro- 
vided with working rooms suitable to their peculiar labors and lines 
of investigation. 

The detailed showings of the chief of this division, and likewise of 
the seed-purchasing agent, will, in all probability, sufficiently enlighten 
the general public as to the needlessness and folly of the annual 
gratuitous and promiscuous distribution of seeds deadheaded through 
the United States mails. 

The one hundred and thirty thousand dollars appropriated by the 
Fifty-third Congress for the purchase and distribution of seed this 
year is practically intact, and consequently undrawn from the Treas- 
ury of the United States. 


The gardens and grounds of the Department are, as they have been 
for more than thirty years, in charge of the chief of that division, 
Mr. William Saunders, horticulturist. The work of the division has 
consisted "in keeping the grounds in good condition, in the cultiva- 
tion and care of the plant and fruit houses, and in the propagation 
of plants for home use and for distribution." 

The free and promiscuous distribution of strawberry and grape 
vines, privet plants, camphor trees, tea trees, olive trees, fig trees, 
pineapples, and miscellaneous varieties of cuttings ought to be abol- 
ished. But if the propagation of rare and valuable plants, vines, and 
exotics is to be continued by the Department, the distribution should 
be limited to the experiment stations and agricultural farms of the 
several States and Territories. By such a limitation the appropria- 
tion for this division could be very materially reduced. It is, how- 
ever, the purpose of experiment stations and agricultural colleges to 
attend to the introduction of new, rare, valuable, or improved plants, 


vines, and seeds to their respective localities. Those institutions are 
-in charge of and directed by skilled, scientific agriculturists of great 
experience. Therefore all of this business of propagating and distrib- 
uting new varieties should be relegated to those institutions. Before 
their existence there might have been some excuse for the gratuitous 
and promiscuous distribution of seeds, vines, plants, trees, and cut- 
tings, but there is no necessity for such distribution at this time at 
the expense of the Federal Treasury. That being the case, the appro- 
priation for the care of thirty-five acres of grounds about the United 
States Department of Agriculture and for the greenhouses thereon 
situated could be very materially and profitably reduced. 


Chief F. L. Evans has submitted a summary of the work of this 
division for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1895, together with a state- 
ment of appropriations, disbursements, and unexpended balances of 
the United States Bureau and Department of Agriculture from the 
fiscal year 1839 to and including the fiscal year 1895. His report is 
entirely satisfactory and could only be evolved from a service of great 
perfection over which he has with scrupulous economy and vigilance 
most efficiently presided. 

The appropriation for the maintenance of this Department for the 
year 1895 was one hundred and four thousand four hundred and 
seventy-six dollars and ninety-four cents (1104,476.94) less than the 
appropriation for 1895, and yet it was one hundred and eighty-three 
thousand four hundred and twenty dollars ($183,420) more than the 
amount estimated for by the Department. 

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 1893, there was covered back 
into the Treasury of the United States from the appropriation for this 
Department one hundred and eighty-five thousand four hundred and 
ninety-seven dollars and sixty-four cents ($185,497.64). Subsequently 
the sum of (in round numbers) six hundred and twenty-five thousand 
dollars ($625,000) for the fiscal year 1894 was returned to the Treasury, 
and for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1895, there is an unexpended 
balance amounting to about five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000). 


Five million one hundred and two thousand five hundred and 
twenty-three dollars and six cents ($5,102,523.06) was appropriated 
to the United States Department of Agriculture during the two fiscal 
years 1894 and 1895; and out of that sum one million one hundred and 
twenty-six thousand two hundred and sixty-eight dollars and seventy- 
four cents ($1,126,268.74) has been saved to cover back into the 

Then add to that saved sum the one hundred and eighty-five thou- 
sand four hundred and ninety-seven dollars and sixty-four cents 
($185,497.64) returned to the Treasury out of the 1893 appropriation, 
and we find that, witli an unimpaired and extended and disciplined 


service in this Department, the aggregate sum of one million three 
hundred and eleven thousand seven hundred and sixty-six dollars 
and thirty-eight cents ($1,311,766.38) is available for return to the 
Treasury since March 4, 1893. 

In a Government where vast sums are handled every day and tens 
and hundreds of millions of money are ordinary topics of conversation, 
the saving of thirteen hundred thousand dollars may attract little 
attention and less commendation. But in the most fertile farming 
county in the best agricultural sections of the American Union it will 
be difficult to find thirteen hundred farmers who all together have 
earned and saved as much in the same period of time. No other class 
of gainfully employed workers among the citizens of the United States 
are so interested in a judiciously economical management of govern- 
mental affairs as are the farmers, who directly and indirectly pay the 
most taxes in proportion to their property, because that property is, as 
a rule, material and visible. And farmers, more than any other class, 
ought to know that governments, whether monarchal, despotic, or 
democratic and republican, are born without money and never get any 
money except by taxing either subjects or citizens, and that a tax is 
payment by the citizen to the Government for the protection it gives 
to property, life, and liberty. And further, that neither bankers, 
railroad owners,, manufacturers, farmers, nor any class, can legiti- 
mately demand the expenditure of public funds for any other purpose 
than that for which they were taken from the people. 


It is suggested that the Weather Bureau could be furnished with 
commodious offices and apartments in the top story of the new post- 
office building in the city of Washington, and upon the roof of the 
same edifice the exposure of all the instruments used in taking 
meteorological observations could be advantageously made, while a 
small part of the basement of the same building set apart for the 
printing office and presses, whence the daily weather maps are issued, 
would complete a most desirable domicile for that Bureau. 

Such a transfer having been made fro-m its present location, the 
Weather Bureau buildings and grounds at the corner of Twenty- 
fourth and M streets, in the city of Washington, could be converted 
into cash and would bring something like 1200,000 or $300,000. This 
sum, added to the $1,300,000 which has been saved and covered into 
the Treasury from appropriations for the Department of Agriculture 
for the fiscal years 1893, 1894, and 1895, makes $1,500,000, which, 
invested in a building constructed purposely for the Department of 
Agriculture, would afford in compact form sufficient accommodations 
for every one of the divisions and bureaus and bring them in daily 
communication with each other. Under the present system of renting 
(rents now amounting for this Department to $3,920 a year) the 
expenses are increasing, and the necessity of having all the divi- 
sions and bureaus, especially those of a scientific character, brought 
together is becoming more and more obvious. 


In view of these facts, if the Department of Agriculture is to be 
domiciled, as every other Department is, in a building proportioned 
to the value and magnitude of the interests which it conserves, it is 
suggested that an appropriation for the construction of an edifice for 
the Department of Agriculture must be made in the very near future. 


By Presidential order, on May 24, 1895, all the employees of the 
Department of Agriculture, with the exception of three persons 
holding office by appointment of the President and of some 500 
laborers and workmen (not skilled) and charwomen, were included in 
the regularly classified civil service. Of the 500, only 78 laborers are 
in Washington. Of employees included in the classified service only 
four are excepted from the rule requiring appointment by competitive 
examination or by promotion. That order, therefore, put all the 
educated and skilled force of specialists and scientists, including all 
the chiefs of division of this Department, into the classified service. 

The total number of employees is 2,019. Four hundred and twenty- 
nine are females. One hundred and sixty-five out of the whole num- 
ber were appointed after civil-service examination and certification. 
Thirty-three of this number are women. 

From the date of the enactment of the civil-service law, January 
16, 1883, to March 6, 1893, the number of persons appointed in this 
Department after examination and certification by the United States 
Civil Service Commission, under the rules, was 112. Of that number 
42 were women. 

But since March 7, 1893, the number so appointed has been 102. 
It lacks only 10 of being as many as had been appointed in accord 
with civil-service law and regulations during more than the ten 
previous years. And since March 7, 1893, only 8 women have been so 
appointed. Of the whole number of 214 thus brought into the serv- 
ice 49 persons have been severed from the Department by resigna- 
tion, transfer, or otherwise. Of that total civil-service list 37 — 25 
males and 12 females — have been severed from the service since 
March, 1893. 

A thoroughly economical and efficient departmental service can 
only be secured and maintained by extending the provisions of the 
civil-service law so as eventually to include all purely nonpolitical 
ministerial officers, clerks, skilled workmen, and laborers. This is 
not the place to discuss in detail the amendments and modifications 
needed to render the civil service of this Government one of the most 
enlightened, prompt, and efficient in the world. The subject, how- 
ever, justly claims space in this report for the expression of the con- 
viction that the service of the Government should be put, in all 
respects, on as good a footing as that of first-class establishments 
conducting professional or commercial enterprises. 

The present system, awarding unduly large salaries for the simplest 
clerical work, almost mechanical in its character, invites an influx to 
"Washington of persons seeking work who properly belong to the 


lowest clerical grade. But unfortunate statutory limitations restrict 
salaries for the more responsible and important positions, which re- 
quire special knowledge, to a level 25 or 50 per cent lower than those 
paid for similar efforts by reputable commercial and professional 
establishments throughout the country. Radical reorganization is 
needed, therefore, in these respects. Reasonable remuneration in 
the subordinate ranks and sufficient inducements in the higher grades 
to stimulate ambition and suitably reward exceptional merit will, 
together with permanency of tenure and the responsible character of 
the employer, attract talent, industry, and character to the service of 
the Government. Under other conditions, which have been tried, 
favoritism, injustice, and dependence upon political influence satu- 
rate the service with mediocrity, indolence, and inefficiency. 

Before dismissing this subject special attention is directed to sec- 
tion 25 of Chapter II in the Vermont constitution of 1793, which 
embodies on the subject of public officers and office holding in gen- 
eral a specimen of good New England sense which may be studied 
with advantage at the present time, more than one hundred years 
after its adoption : 

As every freeman, to preserve his independence, if without a sufficient estate, 
ought to have some profession, calling, trade, or farm, whereby he may honestly 
subsist, there can be no necessity for nor use in establishing offices of profit, the 
usual effects of which are dependence and servility, unbecoming freemen, in the 
possessors or expectants, and faction, contention, and discord among the people, 
But if any man is called into public service to the prejudice of his private affairs, 
he has a right to a reasonable compensation; and whenever an office, through 
increase of fees or otherwise, becomes so profitable as to occasion many to apply 
for it, the profits ought to be lessened by the legislature. And if any officer shall 
wittingly and willfully take greater fees than the law allows him, it shall ever 
after disqualify him from holding any office in this State until he shall be restored 
by act of legislation. 


The farms of the United States, averaging 137 acres each, are 
valued at more than $13,000,000,000. Those farms number four mil- 
lion five hundred and sixty-four thousand six hundred and forty-one 1 
(4,564,641), and their average value in the census of 1890 is $2,909. 

The farm family, including hired help, averages six persons. By 
their own labor, with an additional investment upon each farm of 
about $200 in implements and $800 more in domestic animals and sun- 
dries (making a total farm plant of $4,000), those families made for 
themselves during the year, out of the products of the earth, a whole- 
some and comfortable living. 

The same farmers have with part of their surplus products also fed 
all the urban population of the United States, poor and rich alike. 
Cereals, meats, vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and poul- 
try have been supplied the village and city markets of the United 
States in abundance. It is probably safe to say that more than 
40,000,000 of American citizens not living on farms have been so fur- 

] The 1893 report of the Secretary of Agriculture erroneously stated the number 
of farms in the United States at 6,000,000. 


nished Avith all the necessities and luxuries known as products of the 
variedjsoil and climate of the States and Territories of the Union. 

During the fiscal year 1895 the United States exported to foreign 
countries domestic commodities, merchandise, and products aggre- 
gating in value $793,000,000. The aggregate value of the agricul- 
tural products included in that sum was $553,215,317. Of the total 
exports Europe received a valuation of §628,000,000, or 79 per cent 
of the whole. 

Thus American agriculture, after feeding itself and all the towns, 
villages,' and cities of the United States, has also sold in the outside 
world's markets more than $500,000,000 worth of products. So the 
farmers of the United States have furnished 69.68 per cent of the 
value of all the exports from their country during the year 1895. 

But this large number of consumers, consisting not only of our own 
citizens, but of the citizens of all nations, have not been gratuitously 
fed, though their supplies have been constant and abundant. With 
sound money of the least fluctuating buying power — money on a 
parity with and convertible into gold the world over — American 
farmers have been remunerated for their products. 

The exact amount paid for the products of agriculture consumed in 
the United States during the year is not known, but it must have 
aggregated hundreds of millions of dollars. But all products, i. e., 
those consumed at home and abroad, were in — 

1870 (including betterments and addition to stock) ... $2, 447, 538, 658 

1880 2,213,540,927 

1890 _ 2,460,107,454 

No absolutely credible method of estimating products for 1895 is 
available at this time, but since production has not increased to any 
considerable extent, and the farm value of many of the chief products 
has decreased to a remarkable degree, it seems reasonable to assume 
a decrease in the total valuation of farm products since 1890. Say, as 
a rough approximation, the valuation is $2,300,000,000. 

In the presence of these facts, in the front of these figures demon- 
strating that agriculture in this Republic has during the year fed 
itself, supplied all citizens of the Union engaged in other vocations, 
and then shipped abroad a surplus of over $500,000,000 worth of its 
products, how can anyone dare to assert that farming is generally un- 
remunerative and unsatisfactory to those who intelligently follow it? 

How can the 42 per cent of the population of the United States 
which feeds the other 58 per cent and then furnishes more than 69 per 
cent of all the exports of the whole people be making less profits in 
their vocation than those whom they feed when the latter supply less 
than 31 per cent of the exports of the country ? 

For the purpose of illustrative comparison transfer the $4,000 agri- 
culturally invested in each farm of 137 acres to the choicest Wall 
street investment. Risk that money in railroad first-mortgage bonds, 
in bank stocks, or any other allegedly safe security which may be 
found a favorite among shylocks, brokers, plutocrats, monopolists, 
. money-power manipulators, and multimillionaires, and if it returns 
4 a 95 3 


6 per cent it is a remarkably profitable investment in the eyes of 
capitalists- Therefore $240 is the annual income. 

Follow the transfer of the farm money with that of the farm family 
to urban residence. Kow, with the same labor in the city or village 
can they attain by hard work every day in the year, adding their 
■wages to the $240 income, as much of independence, wholesome living, 
and real comfort as the same amount of money in the land and the 
same heads and hands working on the soil generously and healthfully 
bestowed upon them, in the sweet quiet of a home, amidst flowers, 
trees, fruits, and abundance, on the farm ? 

But the declaimers of calamity declare that the farms of the United 
States are sadly burdened with mortgages. The census of 1890, how- 
ever, develops the fact that on the entire valuation returned for farms 
there is only a mortgage of 16 per cent. It will be borne in mind, too, 
that many thousands of acres of mortgaged lands of great value which 
are returned as farms were such only before they were mortgaged. 
They were purchased to plat as additions to cities like Chicago, Brook- 
lyn, Kansas City, and Omaha, and ceased to be farm lands as soon as 
mortgages representing part of the purchase price were recorded. Such 
lands are, therefore, wrongfully included and returned as farms. They 
show an aggregate of many millions of liabilities. 

On each $10,000 of rural real estate there is, then, an average incum- 
brance of $1,600. And when the faet is recalled to mind that a large 
part of all farm mortgages is for deferred payments on the land itself, 
or for improvements thereon, what other real or personal property in 
the United States can show lesser liabilities, fewer liens in proportion 
to its real cash-producing value ? Certainly the manufacturing plants 
of this country, neither smelting works, mills, iron and steel furnaces 
and foundries, nor any other line of industry, can show less incum- 
brance on the capital invested. 

Railroad mortgages represent 46 per cent of the entire estimated 
value of the lines in this country. On June 30, 1894, 192 railroads 
were in the hands of receivers; they represent $2,500,000,000 cap- 
ital — nearly one-fourth of the total railway capitalization of the 
United States. 

On that date how relatively small was the amount of money in farm 
mortgages compared to the value of the lands securing them? 

During the year 1894, according to the five reports made that year 
to the Comptroller of the Currency, the average indebtedness to their 
depositors of the national banks was $1,685,756,062.45. Besides the 
above, State and private banks, loan and trust companies, and savings 
banks owed their depositors during the same period an average of 
$2,9.73,414,101, making a total of $4,659,170,163.45. 

And in this year, 1895, by the responses of national banks to the 
four calls thus far made upon them by the Comptroller of the Cur- 
rency, their aggregate indebtedness to depositors is shown to be 
$1,719,597,911.33; State and private banks, loan and trust companies, 
and savings banks show an aggregate indebtedness to their depositors 
of $3,185,245,810, making a total of $4,904,843,721.33. 


These figures show an enormous and constant indebtedness of the 
banks and bankers alongside of which the money in farm mortgages 
and the debts owed by farmers are relatively insignificant. The debts 
of railroads, bankers, manufacturers, and merchants entitle them, and 
not the farmers, to be called the "debtor class" in America. 

In 1880, 44 per cent of all Americans engaged in gainful occupa- 
tions were in agricultural pursuits. Applying the same ratio to the 
total population we should have a farming population in the United 
States for 1880 of 22,068,434. The returns of the Eleventh Census 
show that the rural population has increased by 4,078,422 during the 
decade 1880-1890. Adding this to 22,068,434, we get a rough approxi- 
mation of the farming population in 1890 — 26,146,856, or 42 per cent 
of the total — and the number of farms in the United States in 1890 
being 4,564,641, the average number of persons on each farm would 
thus, approximately, be 6. 

There were in 1890 improved farm lands in the United States repre- 
senting an area of tilled and productive fields amounting to 357,616,755 
acres. At that time the United States contained 65,000,000 people. 
Therefore, each citizen of the United States, with an equal per capita 
distribution of farm products, was entitled in the year 1890 to receive 
the cereals, vegetables, and other products evolved from 5£ acres of 
cultivated land, less the amount consumed for the maintenance of 
domestic animals. These figures illustrate the importance of having 
some other than an exclusive "home market." No legislation, how- 
ever encouraging or protective, will be able to create an American 
demand, appetite, and digestion of sufficient magnitude to consume 
all that American farmers produce. Human beings capable of eating 
the food products of even 2£ acres each year have not yet been 
developed. Until they are or until the population of the United 
States has been quadrupled, foreign markets for farm products are 
essential to the prosperity of the plowmen and planters of this country. 

It will be observed that between 1880 and 1890 the proportion of 
the people engaged in agriculture declined 2 per cent, and that to-day 
there are only 42 persons in rural pursuits to 58 in mercantile, manu- 
facturing, and other callings common to the great populational and 
industrial centers. Fifty-eight per cent of the people can not always 
be satisfactorily maintained upon the profits of exchanges among 
themselves in the Adllages and cities. Food for all must come from 
the earth — from tilled fields. The population of the United States in 
1915 — a quarter of a century after the census of 1890 — admitting that 
the increase will diminish very materially as compared with that of 
each preceding quarter of a century since the Government was estab- 
lished, will, no doubt, number at least 120,000,000. 

The value of farm lands, being governed by the relation of the 
supply of those lands to the demand for them, will therefore steadily 
increase. The area or supply remains stationary, or from careless 
tillage decreases. But the added millions of our population augment 
and intensify demand. Therefore the prices of farms must in the 
next twenty years, and possibly in ten years, advance more markedly 


than those of urban real estate. The owners of fertile fields, how- 
ever, must understand now that agriculture is swiftly becoming a 
scientific profession. The more the farmer cultivates his mind the 
better and more profitably he can cultivate his fields. The Depart- 
ment of Agriculture has expended during each of the last two years 
a greater per cent of its appropriations in the application of science 
to farming, to correct tillage and fertilization, than ever before.. 

Each season teaches anew the imperative necessity of more and 
more scientific knowledge for those who are to plow and plant profit- 
ably. The markets of the world will finally be invaded, captured, and 
held by those who produce cereals and meats, vegetables and fruits 
at the least cost, and can therefore most cheaply sell. Competition 
is fiercer every year. American inventions, improved implements 
and machinery for saving labor on the farm and for saving the fruits 
of that labor are exported to Africa, Europe, and South and Central 
America. Thus our own recipes and contrivances for cheap produc- 
tion are used abroad to strengthen the abilities of foreign farmers to 
contend with our own in foreign markets. Information direct from 
Russia, from Argentina, and from Africa tells of larger sales of Amer- 
ican agricultural implements and machinery annually in each country. 

Thus competition is made far more formidable by the increased us© 
in foreign parts of our own improved machines and implements with 
which American manufacturers more than ever are supplying them. 
In view of such a state of facts, farmers must, to be successful, study 
probable demand and adjust supply to its needs. Forecasts of mar- 
kets and their conditions can, by diligent study and attention, be so 
accurately made as to nearly always secure producers against loss. 
The profits of planting must largely become premeditated. The 
struggle to obtain for the offerings of the American farmer the mar- 
kets of the globe is fiercely carried on between him and every other 
farmer in all the world. They are brothers in agriculture, as were 
Abel and Cain, "bringing the fruits of the ground" for approval. 
He who brings the best and cheapest will find approval in welcoming 
purchasers and remunerative prices. The success of the farmer of 
the future therefore depends more upon mental than upon manual 

An act of Congress approved May 15, 1862, creates — 

A Department of Agriculture, the general designs and duties of which shall be 
to acquire and diffuse among the people of the United States useful information 
on subjects connected with agriculture in the most general and comprehensive 
sense of that word. 

And the foregoing report, in conformity to the spirit and letter of 
that law and in accord with the educational design and scope of the 
Department, is respectfully submitted, with the belief that in it may 
be found "useful information connected with agriculture in the most 
general and comprehensive sense of that word." 

J. Steeling Morton, 
Department of Agriculture, Secretary. 

Washington, D. C, November 15, 1895. 


By H. W. Wiley, 
Chief of the Division of Chemistry, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 


Not many years ago the soil was regarded by the agriculturist as 
•dead, inert matter, devoid of all vitality. The theories of fertiliza- 
tion of the soil were based upon this idea, and the methods of culture 
were conducted according to the same theory. The only vital thing 
which the farmer considered was the growing crop itself, and there 
was no suspicion of the relations existing between the vitality of the 
crop and the living organisms of the field. The reader of the agri- 
cultural literature of to-day does not need to be told how all this has 
been changed in the last twenty years. The soil is no longer regarded 
as dead and inert matter, but is known to be so permeated with living 
beings as to entitle it to be considered a living mass. The parts of 
the soil which are not endowed with life now receive their highest 
significance as the environment of the living organisms which they 
contain and which they may help to nourish. The plant which forms 
the growing crop receives its nourishment through the media of the 
nir and soil, but this nourishment must undergo a process of d iges- 
tion, before it becomes available as plant food, similar to that suffered 
by the food which nourishes animals. Indeed, the purely mineral, inor- 
ganic foods of plants are probably not always absorbed as such, and 
must undergo a decomposition before they are assimilated. A striking 
instance of this is shown in the case of silica, an important plant food 
and a type of inert mineral matter. Silica is highly insoluble and 
apparently the least suited of the mineral constituents of the earth to 
enter the vital organism of the plant. Yet not only do we find it in 
the tissues of the mature plant, but also, strange to say, in the 
greatest abundance in those parts of the plant organism, viz, the 
leaves, most remote from the sources of supply. It is evident from 
this that the highly insoluble silica of the soil must undergo a com- 
plete solution in order to be carried by the juices of the plant through 
the network of cellular tissues to be finally redeposited in the leaf. 

The same statement may be made with regard to the other purely 
mineral foods of plants. It is quite certain that they do not become a 
part of the plant organism in the form in which they are found in the 



soil or in applied fertilizers. In phosphorus, for instance, is found one 
of the most important mineral foods of plants. This substance exists 
in the soil almost exclusively as mineral phosphates, or is applied 
as such in fertilizers. Nevertheless, the phosphorus which is found 
in plants, and especially in the seeds of cereals, exists largely in 
organic combination, showing that the original mineral phosphates 
have been entirely decomposed by the process of digestion to which 
they have been subjected. Evea the mineral phosphates which 
are found in plants are not those which preexisted in the soil. 
Soil phosphates are chiefly those of lime, iron, and alumina, while 
plant phosphates are chiefly those of potash. 


At the present moment it is supposed that the purely mineral mat- 
ters mentioned above pass into solution under the influence of the 
secretions and vital forces of the plant rootlets. It is not improbable, 
however, in view of the knowledge we already possess of independent 
soil organisms, that there may be a class of such bodies especially 
active in the disintegration of mineral particles and the preparation 
of them for plant digestion. Naturally, the first organisms which 
would act upon a bare rock would be those which could subsist upon 
a purely mineral environment. Such organisms could draw their 
nourishment solely from the mineral itself and from the air. One of 
the most important of modern discoveries is the fact that the nitrify- 
ing organism of the soil, the nature of which will be explained further 
on, and which is the chief instrument in providing and digesting nitrog- 
enous nutriment for plants, is capable of subsisting and flourishing 
in a purely mineral medium. It is believed, therefore, that in the 
primary decay of bare rocks, especially at high altitudes, the nitri- 
fying organism plays a highly important part and prepares the sur- 
face of the roek for the first growth of lichens and other low vegetable 
organisms from which the first traces of humus are formed. While 
these organisms are said to subsist in a purely mineral environment, 
it must be understood that the carbon dioxide and traces of ammonia 
which the air may contain belong to this category. It has been 
shown that these bacteria can be developed by absorbing from the 
ambient atmosphere traces of ammonia and other bodies which may be 
present in the air. They even assimilate the carbon of the carbon 
dioxide much in the same manner as vegetables which contain chloro- 
phyll. Thus, even in the denuded rocks of high mountains, the con- 
ditions for the development of all these inferior organisms exist. In 
examining the particles produced by attrition from such rocks it is 
easily established that they are uniformly covered by a layer of organic 
matter, evidently formed by microscopic vegetations. There is thus 
discovered in the very first products of the attrition of rocks the 
characteristic element of vegetable soil, viz, humus, the proportion 


of which increases rapidly with the process of disintegration, until 
finally the decaying mass is capable of sustaining chlorophyll-bearing 

Not only upon the surface of exposed rocks have these organisms 
been discovered, but also to a considerable distance in the interior 
of rocks on high mountains, fragments of which have been collected 
in sterilized tubes and subjected to cultivation in an appropriate 


The naked rocks of high mountains comprise mineralogical types 
of the most varied nature, viz, granite, porphyry, gneiss, mica schist, 
volcanic rocks, and limestones of all varieties, and all these have 
been found to be covered with a nitrifying ferment which is doubt- 
less extremely active in producing incipient decay. At the high 
altitudes at which these observations have been made the activity of 
bacteria is necessarily limited by the low temperature to which they 
are subjected during the greater part of the year. During the winter 
season their life is suspended, but is not extinguished, since they have 
been found living and ready to resume all their activity after an indefi- 
nite sleep, perhaps of thousands of years, on the ice of the glaciers, 
where the temperature never rises above the freezing point. When 
the activity of these ferments in the most unfavorable conditions is 
recognized, it is easily seen how much more active they become when 
brought down to lower levels where they are nourished by the favoring 
conditions which exist, especially during the summer time, in culti- 
vated soils. In fact, the importance of the action of these bodies on the 
mineral particles of which the soil is largely composed has never been 
fully recognized, and there is no doubt whatever of the great signifi- 
cance of their decomposing action in the liberation of plant food locked 
up in undecomposed mineral structures. In this case the activity of 
the bacteria is not limited to the surface of rock masses, but per- 
meates every particle of soil and thus becomes effective over a vastly 
extended surface. 

When the extreme mintiteness of these organisms and of the phe- 
nomena which they produce is considered, there may be a tendency 
to despise their importance, but by reason of the fact that their 
activity is never ceasing and of the widest application, it must be 
placed among the geologic causes to which the crust of the earth owes 
a part of its actual physiognomy and to which the formation of the 
deposits of the comminuted elements constituting arable soil are due. 


Consider for a moment a minute fragment of mineral matter of 
any description containing particles of plant food presented to the 
rootlet of a plant. It is evident at once that no mineral particle, 


however minute, can be bodily transported in a mechanical way and 
become an integral part of any plant tissue. Any attempt to move 
soil particles in this manner could only result in a clogging of the 
pores of the cellular tissues, the stoppage of the circulation, and con- 
sequent death of the plant. The mineral particle in question, there- 
fore, must suffer a complete disintegration, and the only forces 
capable of effecting this, in so far as we know, are the solvent action 
of the plant secretions, the vital activity of the rootlet itself, and the 
decomposing influence of the soil ferments. "What particular pro- 
portion of the solvent action is due to each of these causes has not 
yet been determined. It is known, however, that the weak organic 
acids which may be contained in secretions from the roots of plants 
are not capable of exercising a very important solvent influence on 
the soil particles. 

In fact, one of the organic acids which may be found in the secre- 
tions of the rootlets of plants, viz, oxalic acid, is capable of exerting 
an influence which is unfavorable to the decomposition of mineral 
matters containing lime. A mineral which is composed in part of 
lime when exposed to the action of oxalic acid becomes coated with a 
film of lime oxalate which prevents any further decomposing action. 
The influence of nitric acid, which is due to the activity of soil fer- 
ments, is exerted in this case in the most beneficial way, attacking 
and dissolving the film of lime oxalate and exposing fresh portions of 
the mineral substance to decay. Phosphoric acid especially, which is 
so often found in combination with lime, may be released by this 
action and made available. It must not be forgotten also that lime 
itself is an essential plant food and must be supplied in appropriate 
quantities to secure a normal growth of the plants. 

The "vital activity" of the rootlet itself, a phrase often used, has 
an indefinite meaning and conveys absolutely no comprehensible idea 
of solvent action. On the other hand, it is known that soil ferments 
are found in particularly large numbers clustering about the rootlets 
of plants and in fact existing in symbiotic union therewith. This sig- 
nifies that the relation existing between them is so intimate as to make 
their vitality mutually dependent. It is therefore quite probable, as 
has already been intimated, that the preparation of soil particles for 
plant food is due quite largely to bacterial activity. 


The nitric organisms in the soil exist in common with hundreds of 
others, many of which are doubtless active in the solvent work. The 
nitrifying organisms themselves, as will be mentioned further on, 
have such important relations in the supply of nitrogenous food as to 
have escaped consideration in their more purely solvent action. The 
attention of bacteriologists has been devoted almost exclusively to a 
study of the nitrifying organisms in respect of their relation to albu- 


minoid and ammoniacal bodies. For this reason the action of these 
organisms and others relating thereto as a solvent for mineral par- 
ticles, in preparing them for plant absorption has not received the 
consideration which it merits. 


The microorganisms of most importance to agriculture, and those 
to which attention is particularly called in this article, are the bacteria 
which act upon nitrogenous matters and oxidize them to nitric acid, 
or which exert a reducing effect on nitric acid, bringing it to lower 
forms of oxidation, or even to free nitrogen. These organisms belong 
to many different species, and act in very many different ways. The 
general group to which these organisms belong is known as nitro- 
bacteria. The classification of these organisms by genera and species 
would prove of little interest to the readers of this article. In gen- 
eral it may be said that there are three distinct genera, comprising, in 
the first place, those organisms which form ammonia or carbonate 
of ammonia from organic nitrogenous compounds, such as albumen; 
in the second place, the organisms which transform carbonate of 
ammonia into nitrous acid; and, in the third place, those which trans- 
form nitrous into nitric acid. Each genus is necessary in the com- 
plete transformation of proteid matter into nitric acid, in which latter 
form alone nitrogen is chiefly available for plant food. 


The bacteria which are especially active in the formation of ammo- 
nia are found constantly in surface soils and in the air and rain 
waters. By the activity of these organisms in the decomposition of 
albumen or of an albuminoid body large quantities of ammonium 
carbonate are produced. The organic carbon, which is present in 
the compound, is also acted upon during the decomposition of the 
albumen, and by its oxidation certain organic acids are produced 
together with carbon dioxide. Any organic sulphur which is present 
in the original compound becomes converted into an acid. As a rule, 
nitrogen, in the decomposition of albumen and albuminoid bodies, is 
not produced in its free state unless, indeed, the denitrifying organ- 
isms should attack the products of the first oxidation. The ammonia 
ferment naturally produces alkalinity in the media in which it is 
active, but it has been found that its activity is not wholly destroyed 
even in the presence of a slight excess of acid, provided the amount 
of acid present does not exceed 1 per cent. As with the case of the 
other nitrifying organisms, the ammonia ferment is most active in a 
warm environment. A temperature of from 80° to 100° P. is found 
most favorable to the production of a maximum fermentative activity. 
As the temperature approaches the freezing point the activity of the 
organisms diminishes and finally ceases altogether, but their vitality 
2 A 95 3* 


is not destroyed. Above a temperature of 110° F. the activity of the 
ferment is also much diminished and at higher temperatures ceases. 
A temperature near the boiling point of water continued for, some 
time destroys the vitality of the organisms altogether. 

The demonstration of the fact that the transformation of organic 
nitrogenous matter into ammonia is due to microorganic activity is 
easily made in the following simple manner: Two samples of the same 
soil are placed in suitable vessels. The percentages of ammonia and 
of oxidized nitrogen which these samples contain are determined by 
the usual chemical process. One of the samples is then sterilized by 
heating it for a few hours to a temperature considerably above the 
boiling point of water. After the lapse of a few weeks or months, 
the ammonia, or its oxidized products, nitrous and nitric acids, is 
again determined in the two samples. In the unsterilized sample it 
will be found, provided the soils be kept moist and at the proper 
temperature, that there is a marked increase of ammonia. In the 
sterilized sample no such increase will be found. 

In general it may be said that the organic matter in the soil which 
is the source of the ammonia is not altogether albuminoid or proteid 
matter, but includes also the nitrogenous constituents of humus. 
Soil humus is remarkably rich in carbon, and under the conditions 
favorable to nitrification this is constantly suffering oxidation. As 
a result of this constant oxidation, the percentage of carbon in humus 
maintained for a long while under cultivation is much less in pro- 
portion to the other constituents of that body than in soils which 
are regularly fertilized with organic matters or in virgin soils. 

The exact manner in which microorganisms reduce the nitrogenous 
stores of humus to the form of ammonia are, of course, not known, 
and the ferments which are active therein have been the subject of 
less investigation and are more imperfectly understood than those 
which are active in the formation of nitrous and nitric acids. 

It may be possible that the organism which converts organic mat- 
ter into carbonate of ammonia and that one which forms nitrous acid 
are quite similar in their character, but this can not be definitely 


The next step in the process of nitrification is the conversion of 
ammonia or its compounds into nitrous acid. With a moderate store 
of ammonia the oxidation into nitrous acid takes place as a rule with- 
out any of the nitrogen being lost in a free state or being volatilized 
as ammonia compounds. When, however, there is a large excess of 
ammonium carbonate, a considerable loss of nitrogen may take place. 
The practical deduction to be drawn from this fact is apparent. 
Nitrogenous fertilizers should be applied only in moderate quantities, 
so as not to increase the stock of material beyond the power of the 
active ferments to handle it. 


The nitrous ferment is by far the largest and most vigorous of the 
nitrifying organisms. It is from three to four times as large as the 
nitric ferment, and under a high power of the microscope appears as 
minute globules, slightly oblate. These globules are multiplied by 
spores, which develop rapidly to perfect organisms of full size. In 
most cases the organisms appear as distinct globules, but many are 
congregated into masses where the distinctive cell structure seems to 
be lost. 


The last step in the process of nitrification consists in the oxidation 
of nitrous to nitric acid. As a rule plants absorb nitrogenous food 
only as nitric acid, but it can not be said that the nitrogen may not 
be used by the plant in other forms. Some experiments seem to show 
that ammonia and its compounds may be directly absorbed by plants, 
but if this be true it must be only in a very limited quantity. The 
final step, therefore, in nitrification is necessary to secure this valuable 
food in its most highly available state. The nitrifying organisms are 
much smaller than their nitrous cousins, and o"f the same general 
shape but more globular. 

It must not be supposed that these steps in the preparation of a 
nitrogenous food are performed with entire distinctness. The impres- 
sion might be obtained that the ammoniacal ferment exerted its activ- 
ity, converting the whole of the nitrogenous supply into ammonia, 
and that in this state only the nitrous ferment would become active 
and convert the whole product into nitrous acid which finally, under 
the influence of the nitric ferment, would form nitric acid. In point 
of fact, however, in arable soils and under favorable conditions the 
steps of nitrification may be almost synchronous. In the case of a 
growing crop, a chemical examination or repeated chemical examina- 
tions might find only traces of ammonia and nitrous and nitric acids. 
As each particle of ammonia is formed it is converted without delay 
into nitrous acid, and then at once into nitric acid. The nitric acid 
formed would be absorbed by the growing plant, and thus it might 
seem that the activity of the ferments present in the soil had been 
reduced to a minimum, when in point of fact they were exercising 
their functions with maximum vigor. The separate stages of nitrifi- 
cation mentioned above can only be secured in the laboratory by a 
skilled bacteriologist patiently working to separate the different gen- 
era of nitrifying organisms until he procures them in an absolutely 
pure form. As may be supposed, this is very difficult to accomplish. 


The further discussion of the character of the microorganisms pro- 
ducing nitrification and their relations with each other, although 
highly interesting from a scientific point of view, would have no great 
interest for the practical farmer. For him the most important thing 


is to know how to secure in the field the most favorable conditions 
for the development of those soil ferments upon whose activity the" 
abundance of his crops so intimately depends. 


The vitality of a nitrifying organism is as a rule greatly diminished 
as it occurs at a greater depth below the surface. For this reason it 
is found that these ferments occur in the greatest numbers and with 
a maximum vitality near the surface of the soil. It follows from this 
that the conditions favoring the development of these ferments are 
largely found in good drainage and good cultivation. In experiments 
conducted in this division it has been found that in low, wet lands, 
especially those standing under water for a good portion of the year, 
the nitrifying organisms are almost unknown. Such a soil may be 
rich in stores of nitrogenous material, but even after the water has 
been withdrawn and crops are planted it will be found that they do 
not grow luxuriantly by reason of the deficiency of the number and 
vitality of the- nitrifying ferments. Practical farmers know very well 
that in reclaimed lands, after the water has been removed, it is found 
necessary to thoroughly plow the soil and leave it exposed for one or 
more seasons before good crops can be produced. One of the chief 
reasons for this delay is doubtless due to the fact that it requires a 
considerable time for the nitrifying organisms to be developed and 
properly distributed through the soil. 


Another condition favorable to the activity of soil ferments is 
warmth. As has already been indicated, a maximum activity of these 
organisms is shown at a temperature of from 85° to 95° F. Everyone 
who has lived upon a farm knows how rapidly the growth of a crop will 
be checked by a fall of temperature. It is evident, however, that this 
depression of temperature does not diminish in the least the quantity 
of prepared food to which the plant has access. The unfavorable 
influences of a low temperature are doubtless found not alone in the 
sluggishness of the movement of the sap through the cellular tissue 
of the plant, but also in the fact equally as patent that the diminished 
activity of the soil ferments prevents the rootlets of the plants from 
absorbing their normal rations of food. 


At this point attention might be called to a fact showing the differ- 
ence between the activity of the soil ferments and of the plant cells. 
It is well known that in the latter case, viz, the activity of the plant 
cells, the influence of light is of the utmost importance. It is true 
that while plants may grow to a certain extent when deprived of direct 
sunlight, yet such plants grown in semidarkness never reach matu- 


rity, and the products of their vitality are often quite different from 
those of the normal plant. In etiolated plants — that is, those grown 
in the dark — are often found products which do not occur at all in 
those subjected to normal growth. The action of sunlight is there- 
fore indispensable to the full functional activity of the supraterra- 
nean parts of plants. On the other hand, it is seen that the action of 
sunlight is highly prejudicial to the development of the soil fer- 
ments. Exposed to a bright light, the activity of these ferments is 
diminished until it reaches practically the vanishing point. Happily, 
the surface of the soil, being almost impenetrable to light, preserves 
the organisms lying even near the surface from the deleterious action 
of the sun. Warm nights, therefore, are even more favorable to the 
development of soil organisms than warm days, and all are familiar 
with the phenomenal growth which many plants make during the 


From what has been said above it can be inferred that a proper 
aeration is also necessary to the development of the functional activity 
of the fermentative germs. Good drainage and cultivation secure a 
free circulation of air through the soil and this is essential to the 
process of nitrification, which is simply oxidation produced by low 
vegetable organisms. While it is important, as indicated above, to 
remove the excess of water to secure proper aeration, it should not be 
forgotten that a certain amount of moisture is necessary for the life 
of the microorganisms. Experience has shown that when the soil 
contains from one-third to one-half of the total moisture it is capable 
of holding, the proper quantity of water is supplied for the most rapid 
growth of the nitrifying ferments. 


Among the influences which favor the process of nitrification tillage 
of the soil must be mentioned. A thorough breaking up of the soil 
and of the upper layers of the subsoil is necessary to the aeration 
which is an indispensable condition to the progress of nitrification. 
The cultivation of the soil, therefore, in this way not only makes it 
possible for the rootlets of the plants to extend to a greater distance 
and thus secure larger quantities of food, but actually increases the 
available quantity of nitrogenous food in the soil. In connection with 
thorough drainage the best tillage of the soil thus tends to make avail- 
able its stores of inert nitrogen. 


Since the final action of the nitrifying organisms results in the 
production of nitric acid, it is highly important that the soil contain 
some substance capable of combining with this acid and thereby pre- 
venting its accumulation in a free state. The activity of these fer- 
ments is diminished by the presence of an acid and increased by a 


moderately alkaline environment. If the acid be allowed to accumu- 
late to a certain point, not only is the activity of the ferments sus- 
pended, but a positive injury may be done to a growing crop. All 
practical farmers know how poorly sour lands respond to cultivation, 
and this injurious influence is due not only to the action of the acid 
upon plant growth but also in a high degree to its effect in prevent- 
ing the evolution of the nitrifying organisms. It is well known that 
a soil which has an abundant content of carbonate of lime is, as a rule, 
fertile. The value of lime as a fertilizing agent in many soils is well 
attested, yet it is certain that this favorable effect is not due to the 
fact that an additional amount of lime is necessary for plant food. 
Soils are rarely found which do not contain an abundant supply of 
lime for all the nutritive needs of plants. It is certain, therefore, 
that the chief value of the use of lime in agriculture is to be found in 
some indirect influence which it exerts upon the soil. Heretofore 
three special methods have been pointed out in which lime exerts a 
beneficial influence. In the first place, it profoundly affects the phys- 
ical structure of stiff soils, producing a flocculation of the silt and thus 
preventing its deposition in individual particles. A well-limed soil is 
thus apt to be open and porous and easily tilled. In the second place, 
the lime exerts a certain soluble influence on undecomposed particles 
of rock, thus favoring their speedy decomposition and the consequent 
freeing of the potash and phosphoric acid which they contain. In 
the third place, the added lime tends to correct any acidity of the 
soil which may be due to the accumulation and excess of humus, or 
which may arise from imperfect drainage. 

It must be admitted, however, that one of the chief benefits of the 
introduction of lime into a soil is derived from the fact that it favors 
in a high degree the evolution and development of the nitrifying 

The lime which is used for fertilization is, as a rule, chiefly in the 
form of oxide or hydrate, that is, slacked lime. After its incorporation 
in the soil, however, both the oxide and hydrate of lime are rapidly 
changed to carbonate under the influence of the carbon dioxide (car- 
bonic acid) which is found in the atmosphere of the soil in notable 
proportions; in fact, in a much higher percentage than in the air. The 
soil thus becomes permeated with lime carbonate in a fine state of sub- 
division, a condition especially well suited to favor the growth of the 
nitroorganisms. Hereafter, therefore, in discussing the benefits of 
the application of lime, this function of it must receive due consider- 
ation. It will not be at all surprising if future investigations should 
establish the fact that this use of lime is of far more importance in 
agriculture than any of the others above noted. 


In the above paragraphs the conditions favoring the development 
and activity of nitrifying organisms have been briefly set forth, but 


the presence of all these favoring conditions will prove of no advan- 
tage in a soil which is practically sterilized. In such a case, however, 
if a few organisms can be supplied a practically sterilized soil will, 
after a time, by the natural growth and distribution of nitrifying 
organisms, become fully impregnated with the nitrifying germs. The 
question naturally arises, Is there any artificial way in which the 
seeding of the soil may be accelerated ? The answer to this ques- 
tion is undoubtedly affirmative. In experiments which have been 
conducted in this Department, and of which notice will be made fur- 
ther on, it has been fully demonstrated that different soils differ in 
the most marked degree in the number and vitality of the nitrifying 
organisms which they contain. As a rule, the richer the soil or the 
more highly fertilized it has been and the more fully cultivated, the 
greater will be the number of the organisms which it contains and 
the higher the degree of their vitality. It is thus seen that in a field 
which contains all the elements of fertility, but which by reason of 
unfavorable conditions, as, for instance, having previously been a 
swamp or marsh deficient in nitrifying organisms, may be practically 
sterilized, great benefit may be derived by spreading over it as 
evenly as possible a little soil taken from a rich garden which has 
been kept in excellent cultivation. The amount of plant food added 
in such a soil would not be of any great importance, but the nitri- 
fying organisms thus distributed would rapidly grow in the favorable 
environment in which they were found and the inert nitrogen of the 
field be thus speedily prepared for the wants of the growing crop. 

The action of stable manure is another instance of the great benefit 
which is derived from manuring a field with nitrifying organisms. It 
is well known that the nitrifying ferments of decomposing stable 
manure are particularly numerous and vigorous. The production of 
ammonia in a pile of stall manure is often so rapid as to be distinctly 
noticed by the passer-by from the odor produced. It has long been a 
matter of wonder among agronomists to find stall manure, when scat- 
tered over a field, producing fertilizing results far in excess of what 
could be expected from the quantity of plant food contained therein. 
In the light of the facts set forth above, however, these results are no 
longer surprising. In the distribution of the manure large numbers 
of a particularly vigorous species of nitrifying organisms are incor- 
porated with the soil, and these and their progeny continue to exercise 
their activity upon the inert nitrogen of the soil when the more easily 
nitrifiable portions of the stall manure are exhausted. This result 
brings to the attention of the scientific agronomist an entirely new 
factor in the process of fertilization. Even in poor soils chemical 
analysis often discovers quantities of plant food which seem amply 
sufficient to produce remunerative crops. The true theory of fertili- 
zation, therefore, not only looks to the addition of appropriate plant 
foods to a soil deficient therein, but also to the making available the 
stores of plant food already present. 



When a soil is practically free from albuminoid bodies and contains 
but little humus, the attempt to develop a more vigorous nitrifying 
ferment would be of little utility. Even in a soil containing a con- 
siderable degree of humus, it may be found that its nitrogen content 
has been so far reduced as to leave nothing practically available for 
the activity of nitrification. In such cases the only rational method 
of procedure is in the application of fertilizers containing nitrogen. 
In other cases where the lack of fertility is due to the extinction or 
attenuation of the nitrifying ferment, remunerative results may be 
obtained by some process of seeding similar to that described above. 
It is entirely within the range of possibility that there may be devel- 
oped in the laboratory species of nitrifying organisms which are par- 
ticularly adapted for action on different nitrogenous bodies. For 
instance, the organism which is found most effective in the oxidation 
of albuminoid matter may not be well suited to convert amides or the 
inert nitrogen of humus into nitric acid. "We have already seen the 
day when the butter maker sends to a laboratory for a ferment best 
suited to the ripening of his cream. It may not be long until the 
farmer may apply to the laboratory for particular nitrifying ferments 
to be applied to such special purposes as are mentioned above. 
Because of the extreme minuteness of these organisms the too prac- 
tical agronomist may laugh at the idea of producing fertility thereby, 
and this idea, indeed, would be of no value were it not for the wonder- 
ful facility of propagation which an organism of this kind has when 
exposed in a favorable environment. It is true that the pure cultures 
which the laboratory would afford would be of little avail if limited 
to their own activity, and it is alone in the possibility of their almost 
illimitable development that their fertilizing effects may be secured. 


In regard to the numbers and kinds of organisms which take part 
in the oxidation of nitrogenous bodies, our knowledge is limited. It 
has already been noted that a great many species take part in the 
production of ammonia. The purely nitrous and nitric ferments seem 
to be of a more limited character, but it must not be forgotten that 
scarcely a beginning has been made in the investigation of these 
bodies, and it is entirely probable that great differences in their 
nature will be established. It is not at all likely, for instance, that a 
nitrifying organism such as exerts its activity in an ordinary soil 
under ordinary conditions would belong to a species which was capa- 
ble of development and work in an entirely different medium. There 
are in the arid regions indubitable evidences of strong nitrifications 
in the presence of highly alkaline salts. While it is true that a slight 
alkalinity favors the ordinary form of nitrifying activity, it is likewise 


certain that such organisms would be practically paralyzed if subjected 
to the alkaline environment of the arid plains. It is therefore highly 
desirable that the investigation of these organisms be pushed to the 
widest extent, not only for the scientific value of the investigation, 
but also for its practical utility in scientific farming. This is one 
of the objects kept in view in the investigations which the Depart- 
ment has undertaken in respect of the extent and character of the 
nitrifying ferments in the typical soils of the United States. 


In the preceding paragraphs the attention of the reader has been 
briefly called to the action of those species of ferments which attack 
nitrogen in some of its forms of combination. Since nitrogenous food 
is the most expensive form of nutriment which the plant consumes, 
it is a matter of grave importance to agriculture to know the full 
extent of the supply of this costly substance. It is evident that the 
continued action of nitrifying ferments finally tends to exhaust the 
stores of this substance which have been provided in the soil. The 
quantities of .oxidized nitrogen produced by electric discharges in the 
air and by other meteorological phenomena, and which are brought 
to the soil in rain waters, are of considerable magnitude, but lack 
much of supplying the ordinary wastage to which the stores of soil 
nitrogen are subjected. Even with the happiest combination of cir- 
cumstances it is not difficult to see in what way the available stores 
of nitrogen could be diminished to a point threatening the proper 
sustenance of plants, and thus diminishing the necessary supplies of 
human food. The examination of the drainage waters which come 
from a fertile field in full cultivation is sufficient to convince the 
most skeptical of the fact that the growing crop does not by any 
means absorb all of the products of the activity of the nitrifying 
ferments. Nitric acid and its compounds, the nitrates, are exceed- 
ingly soluble in water, and for this reason any unappropriated stores 
of them in the soil are easily removed by heavy downpours of rain. 
Happily the living vegetable organism has the property of withhold- 
ing nitric acid from solution, either by some property of its tissues 
or more probably by some preliminary combination which the nitric 
acid undergoes in the plant itself. This is easily shown by a sim- 
ple experiment. If fresh and still living plants be subjected to the 
solvent action of water, very little nitric acid will be found to pass into 
solution. If, however, the plants are killed before the experiment is 
made, by being exposed for some time in an atmosphere of chloroform, 
the nitric acid which they contain is easily extracted by water. 

The losses, therefore, which an arable soil sustains in respect of its 
content of nitrogenous matter must be supplied either by the addition 
of nitrogenous fertilizers or by some action of the soil whereby the 
nitrogen which pervades it may be oxidized and fixed in a form suited 


to the nourishment of plants. The discussion in regard to the possi- 
bility of fixing nitrogen in the soil has been carried on with great 
vigor during the last two decades. The proof, however, is now over- 
whelming that such fixation does take place. It would not be proper 
here to enter into a discussion of the processes by which this fixation 
is determined, and, in fact, they are not definitely known. One thing, 
however, is certain, viz, that it is accomplished by means of micro- 
organisms or ferments similar, perhaps, in their nature to those 
already mentioned, but capable of absorbing, assimilating, and oxi- 
dizing free nitrogen. 


At the present time it is sufficiently well known that this operation 
takes place in two ways. In the first place, there are found to exist 
on the rootlets of certain plants, chiefly of the leguminous family, 
colonies of bacteria whose function is known by the effects which 
they produce. In such plants in a state of maturity, as was men- 
tioned above', are found larger quantities of organic nitrogen than 
could possibly have been derived from the soil in which they were 
grown or from the fertilizers with which they were supplied. Cul- 
tural experiments in sterilized soils, with careful exclusion of all 
sources of organic nitrogen, have proved beyond question that this 
gain in nitrogen is found only in such plants as are infected by the 
organism mentioned. The logical conclusion is therefore inevitable that 
these organisms, in their symbiotic development with the plant root- 
lets, assimilate and oxidize the free nitrogen of the air and present it to 
the plant in a form suited to absorption. Attempts have been made 
to inoculate the rootlets of other families of plants with these organ- 
isms, but so far without any pronounced success. There are, however, 
certain orders of low vegetable life, such as cryptogams, for instance, 
which seem to share to a certain degree the faculty of the leguminous 
plants in acting as a host for the nitrifying organisms mentioned. 
The observation above recorded becomes a sufficient explanation of 
the fact that the fertility of fields is increased by the cultivation of 
leguminous plants, which would not be possible except they could 
develop some such property as that which has already been described. 

Another order of organisms has also been discovered which is 
capable of oxidizing free nitrogen when cultivated in an environment 
from which organic nitrogen is rigidly excluded. It seems probable, 
therefore, even in soils which bear crops not capable of developing 
nitrifying organisms on their rootlets it is possible that the actual 
stores of available nitrogen may be increased. This fact explains the 
observation which has frequently been made that in fields which are 
not cultivated but which remain in grass there may be found an actual 
increase in the total amount of nitrogen which is available for plant 
growth. As will be seen further along, the soil is also infested with 


an organism which is capable of destroying nitric acid and returning 
the nitrogen which it contains to the air in a free state. It seems 
almost certain that in every complete decomposition of a nitrogenous 
organism a part of the nitrogen which it contains escapes in the free 
state. Were it not, therefore, for the fact that this free nitrogen can 
be again oxidized and made available for plant growth the total stores 
of organic nitrogen in existence would be gradually diminished, and 
the time would ultimately come when their total amount would not 
be sufficient to sustain a plant life abundant enough to supply the 
food of the animal kingdom. Thus the earth itself, even without 
becoming too cold for the existence of the life which is now found 
upon it, might reach a state when plant and animal life would become 
practically impossible by reason of the deficit of nitrogenous foods. 

Much less is known concerning the character and activity of the 
organisms that oxidize free nitrogen than of those which feed upon 
organic nitrogen. It can not be doubted, however, that these scarcely 
known ferments are of the greatest importance to agriculture, and 
the further study of their nature and the proper methods of increas- 
ing their activity can not fail to result in the greatest advantage to 
the practical farmer. 


It has been noticed by many observers that when nitric acid is 
subjected to certain fermentative processes it becomes decomposed 
and gradually disappears. In studying the causes which lead to this 
decomposition it is found that it is due to the action of a micro- 
organism or ferment, which, by reason of the result of its functional 
activity, is called a denitrifying organism. While it is true that in 
numbers and activity this denitrifying organism does not equal its 
nitrifying relation, yet it is a matter of no inconsiderable importance 
to know fully the laws which govern its existence. As in the case of 
the bacteria which are found in ripening cream, where some produce 
evil and some good effects, so it is also with those in the soil. The 
favoring organisms, whose functional activity prepares nitrogen in a 
form suited for plant food, are accompanied by others, doubtless nearly 
related to them, whose functional activity tends to destroy the work 
which the first have accomplished. It thus happens that in the 
fermentation of nitrogenous bodies there is danger of losing, as has 
already been said, a part of the nitrogen, which may either escape as 
gaseous oxides unsuited for the sustenance of plants, or even as free 
nitrogen. The object, at least the practical object, of the investiga- 
tion of these denitrifying organisms should be to discover some 
process by which their multiplication could be prevented and their 
activity diminished. At the present time all that is known is that in 
favoring circumstances these organisms are not developed in suflicient 
numbers to prove very destructive. It has already been mentioned, 


however, that in case of a very great excess of organic nitrogenous 
matter a considerable quantity of the nitrogen therein contained may, 
through the action of these organisms, be lost. The practical lesson 
taught here is to apply nitrogenous foods in a moderate manner and 
avoid every unnecessary excess. 


There are also other forms of ferments in the soil of an objection- 
able nature which are not related to the nitrifying organism. It has 
been observed in France that in localities where animals are interred 
which have died of charbon the germs of this infectious malady per- 
sist in the soil for many years, and that, especially when cereal crops 
are cultivated upon such soils, there is great danger of contaminating 
healthy cattle with the same disease. In one case it was observed 
that many sheep which were pastured in a field in which, two years 
before, a single animal which had died of charbon was buried were 
infected with the disease and died. In like manner, it is entirely 
probable that the germs of hog cholera may be preserved in the soil 
for- many years to finally again be brought into an activity which may 
prove most disastrous for the owners of swine. Every effort should 
be made by agronomists to avoid infecting the soil by the carcasses 
which are dead from any zymotic disease. Cremation is the only 
safe method of disposing of such infected carcasses. The investiga- 
tions of scientists have shown that there are many diseases of an 
infectious nature due to these germs, and that these germs may 
preserve their vitality in the soil. Among others may be mentioned 
yellow fever and tetanus. 


For the reasons given above, the agronomist who also has at heart 
the health and welfare of man and beast can hardly look with favor 
upon any of the plans which have been proposed for the use of sew- 
age from large cities for irrigation purposes. There is scarcely a time 
in any large city when some infectious disease, due to the activity of 
germs, does not exist, and the sewage is liable at all times to be con- 
taminated therewith. In view of the fact that the vitality of the germs 
mentioned above may be continued for a long time in the soil, it is 
fair to conclude that it is of the utmost importance to avoid the con- 
tamination of the soil, where it is to be used for agricultural purposes, 
with any of the dejecta which may come from those infected with any 
zymotic disease whatever. 


Attention has already been called to the fact that the activity of 
the nitrifying ferments in a soil is, as a rule, greater than the needs 
of the growing crop. For this reason the waters of drainage are 
found to be more or less impregnated with nitrates. The sea is 


eventually the great sorting ground into which all this waste material 
is poured. The roller processes of nature, like the mills of the gods, 
grind exceedingly slow and small, and the sea becomes the bolting 
cloth by which the products of milling are separated and sorted out. 
Not only do the drainage waters carry nitrates, but also potash, 
phosphoric acid, lime, and other soluble materials of the soil. As 
soon as this waste material is poured into the sea, the process of 
sifting at once begins. The carbonate of lime becomes deposited in 
vast layers, or by organic life is transformed into immense coral 
formations or into shells. Phosphoric acid is likewise sifted out into 
phosphatic deposits or passes into the organic life of the sea. Even 
the potash, soluble as it is, becomes collected into mineral aggregates 
or passes into marine animal or vegetable growth. 

All these valuable materials are thus conserved and put into a shape 
in which they may be returned sooner or later to the use of man. In 
the great cosmic economy there is no such thing as escape of any 
valuable material from usefulness. The nitrates which are poured 
into the sea are sooner or later absorbed by the seaweed or other 
marine vegetation, or serve for the nourishment of the animal life of 
the ocean. It is highly probable that the great deposits of nitrates 
found in certain arid regions, notably in Chile, are due to the decom- 
position of marine vegetation. There must be present in the sea vast 
fields of vegetation which, growing in water largely impregnated with 
nitrates, become highly charged with organic nitrogenous matter. In 
the changes of level to which the surface of the earth is constantly 
subjected, the depths of the sea often become isolated lakes. In the 
evaporation of the water of these lakes, such as would take place in 
arid regions, immense deposits of marine vegetation and common 
salt would occur. In the oxidation and nitrification of this organic 
matter, due to fermentative action, the organic nitrogen would be 
changed into the inorganic state. In the presence of calcareous rocks 
the nitrate of calcium would be formed, Avhich finally, by double 
decompositions, would result in the formation of nitrate of soda, the 
form in which these deposits now exist. The fact that iodine is found 
in greater or less quantity in these deposits of soda saltpeter is a 
strong argument in favor of the hypothesis that they are due to 
marine origin. Iodine is found only in sea and never in terrestrial 
plants. Further than this, attention should be called to the fact that 
these deposits of nitrate of soda contain neither shells nor fossils, nor 
do they contain any phosphate of lime. It is hardly credible, there- 
fore, that they are due to animal origin. The activity of ferments in 
these great deposits of marine plants, although taking place perhaps 
millions of years ago, has served to secure for the farmers of the 
present day vast deposits of nitrate of soda which prove of the utmost 
value in increasing the yield of the field. To every quarter of the 
globe where scientific agriculture is now practiced these deposits are 


sent. They are of such vast extent that it is not likely they will soon 
be exhausted, and the labors of the agriculturist for many hundreds of 
years to come will continue to be blessed by reason of the activity of 
the insignificant microscopic ferments which plied their vocation in 
past geological epochs. 

Because at the present time there are no known deposits of marine 
vegetation undergoing nitrification, is no just reason for doubting the 
accuracy of the above-mentioned hypothesis. Our geologists are not 
acquainted at present with any locality in which deposits of phos- 
phate are taking place, but the absence of the process can not be used 
as a just argument against any of the theories which have been pro- 
posed to account for the immense deposits of this material which are 
found in various parts of this and other countries. Another illustra- 
tion of this point may be found in the coal deposits. The environ- 
ment which determines the geologic conditions now is not favorable 
to the development of large quantities of organic matter from which 
coal might be produced by changes in the level of the earth's surface. 
In fact, all the teachings of paleontology show beyond a doubt that 
life in the past geological ages was on a far larger scale than at 
present. In those remote times the mean temperature of the earth's 
surface was very much greater than it is at the present time. There 
are many indubitable evidences of the fact that high equatorial tem- 
peratures prevailed even at the poles, while the present tropic and 
temperate zones were probably too warm for any forms of life which 
now exist. The fossil remains of animals and plants of those ages 
show the gigantic scale on which all animal and vegetable life was 
formed. When crocodiles were nearly 70 feet in length and dragon 
flies 3 feet long it is not surprising that both terrestrial and marine 
vegetation existed in a far more exuberant form than at present. 
The dense terrestrial vegetation which made the coal deposits possible 
were doubtless equaled by marine vegetable growth capable, by oxida- 
tion under favorable circumstances, of forming the vast deposits of 
nitrates which have been discovered in various parts of the world. 
The depression of the surface of the land which enabled the coal 
measures to be developed beneath the surface of the sea, was doubt- 
less compensated for by the elevation of the marine forests into a 
position favoring the deposits of nitrates. The wonderful conserva- 
tive instincts of nature are thus demonstrated in a most remarkable 
manner in restoring to the fields the nitrates leached therefrom in 
past ages. 


The fermentative action of germs in the production of nitrates on 
a small scale and their storage to a limited extent are found going 
on in many caves at the present time. In these localities large num- 
bers of bats formerly congregated, and the nitrogenous constituents of 


their dejecta and remains, collecting on the floors of caves practically 
devoid of water, have undergone nitrification and become converted 
into nitric acid. In a similar manner the deposits produced in rook- 
eries, especially in former ages, have been converted into nitric acid 
and preserved for the use of the farmer. The well-known habits of 
birds in congregating in rookeries during the nights and at certain 
seasons of the year tend to bring into a common receptacle the nitroge- 
nous matters which they have gathered and which are deposited in 
their excrement and in the decay of their bodies. The feathers of 
birds are particularly rich in nitrogen, and the nitrogenous content of 
their flesh is also high. The decay of the remains of birds, especially 
if it take place in a locality practically excluded from the leaching 
action of water, serves to accumulate vast deposits of nitrogenous 
matter, which is at once attacked by the nitrifying ferments. If the 
conditions in such deposits are particularly favorable to the process 
of nitrification, the whole of the nitrogen, or at least the larger part 
of it which has been collected in these debris, becomes finally converted 
into nitric acid, and is found combined with appropriate bases as 
deposits of nitrates. The nitrates of the guano deposits and of the 
deposits in caves, as has already been indicated, arise in this way. 
If these deposits be subject to moderate leaching, the nitrates may 
become infiltered into the surrounding soil. The bottoms and sur- 
rounding soils of caves are often found highly impregnated with 


When, on the other hand, these deposits take place in regions sub- 
jected to heavy rains, the nitric acid which is formed is rapidly 
removed, to be returned to the ocean and begin anew the circuit of 
life which will finally restore it to the land. By reason of the accu- 
mulation of nitrogenous matters in tropical regions, especially where 
there is deficient rainfall, it has been found that the soils of those 
regions contain a very much larger percentage of nitrates than is 
found, for instance, in the soils of the United States. These nitrated 
soils are very abundant, especially in Central and South America, 
where they cover large surfaces. In these soils the nitric acid, as a 
rule, is found in combination with lime, while in the purer deposits of 
nitric acid it is almost constantly found in combination with soda. 
In some South American soils as much as 30 per cent of nitrate of 
lime has been found. Not only birds serve thus to secure deposits 
of nitrogen, but large quantities of guano rich in nitrates have their 
origin in the debris of insects, fragments of elytra, scales of the wings 
of butterflies, and other animal matters which are often brought 
together in quantities of millions of cubic meters. The products of 
nitrification in these deposits may also be absorbed by the surround- 
ing soils. Some localities produce such great quantities of nitrate of 
lime (which is a salt easily absorbing water) as to convert the soil in 


their immediate neighborhood into a plastic paste. In all the deposits 
such as are described above are found large quantities of phosphoric 
acid and sufficient remains of animal life to show in a positive manner 
their origin. It is thus seen that there is a very marked difference 
between the character of the deposits of nitric acid due to terrestrial 
animal origin and those which have been derived from a marine 
vegetable source. An economic observation of some importance may 
be made here, viz, to the effect that when in the future the deposits 
of nitrate of soda due to marine origin are exhausted it may still be 
possible to keep up the supply demanded for agricultural use by 
leaching the highly impregnated soils above mentioned and thus 
securing the nitric acid in a form sufficiently concentrated to make its 
transportation profitable. 


Practically the only form of oxidized nitrogen which is of commer- 
cial importance, from an agronomic point of view, is sodium nitrate, 
commonly known in commerce as Chile saltpeter. The nitrate of 
potash, a nearly related salt, is also of high manurial value, but on 
account of its cost and the importance of its use in the manufacture 
of gunpowder, it has not been very extensively applied as a fertilizing 
material. When Chile saltpeter is applied to a growing crop it becomes 
rapidly dissolved, especially at the first fall of rain or by the moisture 
normally existing in the soil. It carries thus to the rootlets of plants 
a supply of nitrogen in the most highly available state. There is, 
perhaps, no other kind of plant food which is offered to the living 
vegetable in a more completely predigested state and none to which 
the growing plant will yield a quicker response. By the very reason 
of its high availability, however, it must be used with the greatest 
care. A too free use of such a stimulating food may have in the end 
an injurious effect upon the crop and is quite certain to lead to a waste 
of a considerable portion of expensive material. For this reason 
Chile saltpeter should be applied with extreme care in small quanti- 
ties at a time and only when it is needed by the growing crop. It 
would be useless, for instance, to apply this material in the autumn 
with the expectation of its benefiting the crop to a maximum degree 
the following spring. If the application of the manure should be 
made just previous to a heavy rain, it is not difficult to see that nearly 
the whole of it might be removed beyond the reach of the absorbing 
organs of the plant. 


The molecule of sodium nitrate is decomposed in the process of 
absorption of the nitric acid. The plant presents a selective action 
to its constituents, the nitric acid entering the plant organism and the 
soda being rejected. Soda, however, may not be without its uses, for, 


doubtless being at some time in a practically nascent or hydrated 
state, it may play a role of some considerable importance in decom- 
posing particles of minerals containing phosphoric acid. It is proba- 
ble that the decomposition of the sodium nitrate takes place in the 
cells of the absorbing plant, for it is difficult to understand how it 
could be accomplished externally except by a denitrifying ferment. 
While the soda itself is therefore of little importance as a direct plant 
food, it can hardly be dismissed as of no value whatever in the process 
of fertilization. 

Many of the salts of soda, as, for instance, common salt, are quite 
hygroscopic, and serve to attract moisture from the air and thus 
become carriers of water between the plant and the air in seasons of 

The Chile saltpeter of commerce may reach the farmer in the lumpy 
state in which it is shipped, or finely ground ready for application 
to the fields. Unless the farmer is provided with convenient means 
for grinding, the latter condition is much to be preferred. It permits 
of a more even distribution of the salt, and thus encourages economy 
in its use. 


The question of when the soil needs an application of Chile saltpe- 
ter is often one of great importance, and the farmer would do well, 
before applying a great deal of this expensive fertilizer, to consult the 
agricultural experiment station of his locality, or should determine 
the actual needs of his soil by experiments upon small plats. The 
quantity of Chile saltpeter which should be applied per acre varies 
with so many different conditions as to make any definite statement 
concerning it unreliable. On account of the great solubility of this 
salt no more should be used than is necessary for the temporary 
nutrition of the crop. For each 100 pounds of it used, from 14 to 15 
pounds of oxidized nitrogen would be added to the soil. Field crops, 
as a rule, require less of the salt than garden crops. In field crops 
there is an economic limit to the application of the salt which should 
not be passed. As a rule, 250 pounds per acre should be a maximum 
dressing. The character of the crop must also be taken into consid- 
eration. Different amounts are required for sugar beets, tobacco, 
wheat, and other standard crops. Cereal crops, especially, absorb a 
high percentage of the nitrogen in Chile saltpeter judiciously applied. 
As a rule, Chile saltpeter should be used as a temporary supply. Its 
presence diminishes to a certain extent the necessity for the activity 
of the nitrifying ferments, and its long-continued use in sufficient 
quantities would evidently cause an enf eeblement of those organisms. 


The entire consumption of Chile saltpeter for manurial purposes 
throughout the world at the present time is perhaps a little over a 


million tons annually, of a total value, delivered to the farmer, of 
over $40,000,000. The approximate amounts annually consumed in 
different countries are as follows : 


Germany 400,000 

France 200,000 

Belgium 125,000 

England 120,000 

United States - 100,000 

Holland 60,000 

Italy and Spain. 5, 000 

Other countries 6, 000 


Chile saltpeter has a moderate value at the factories in Chile where 
it is prepared for shipment. Its high cost at the ports where it is 
delivered for consumption is due chiefly to the freights and the profits 
of the syndicate controlling the business. 

The factories where it is prepared for the market are at or near the 
deposits, and the freights thence to the seacoast in Chile are very 
high. The railroads which have been constructed to the high pla- 
teaux which contain the deposits have been built at a very great cost, 
and the freights charged are correspondingly high. There is also a 
tax of $1.20 levied by the Chilean Government on each ton exported. 
Deducting all costs of transportation and export duties, the actual 
value of sodium nitrate at the factory ready for shipment is about 
$16 in gold a ton. 


It is not possible at all times to maintain an equilibrium between 
the activity of the nitrifying organism and the needs of a growing 
crop. There are times when the amount of nitric acid produced is 
greater than the crop demands, while at other periods the needs of the 
crop may be far in excess of the ability of the organisms to supply. 
In the one case there will be a necessary increase in the amount of 
nitrates in the soil, while in the other the vigor of the growing crop 
will be at least temporarily checked. There are many practical points 
connected with this matter which must be of great interest to the 
farmer. As a rule, farming operations are carried on for profit and 
not for pleasure, and for this reason the more practical the results of 
scientific study the more useful they become to the great mass of 
agriculturists. The rich man who farms for pleasure can easily afford 
expenses in the way of fertilizers which the practical farmer must 
avoid. Happily, at those seasons of the year when crops grow least 
vigorously the activity of the nitrifying organisms is reduced to a 
minimum. For instance, the amount of nitric acid which is produced 
during the winter is a very small quantity as compared with the 

. \ 


production during the warm months. In the natural order of things, 
therefore, there is a tendency to conserve to the utmost the products 
of nitrification. 


Evidently, the very best method of utilizing the products of the 
activity of the soil ferments is to have them absorbed by a growing 
crop. For this reason, as well as for others of an economical nature, 
the farmer should have as little waste land as possible. Every acre 
which he possesses should either be devoted to forest, orchard, grass, 
pasturage, or cultivated crops. By thus occupying the land he will 
reduce to a minimum the losses which occur from the leaching of 
the soil by water. 

It is well known that all agricultural crops store immense quanti- 
ties of organic nitrogen in their tissues. As a rule, the highest per- 
centages of nitrogenous organic compounds are found in the seeds of 
plants, but it must not be forgotten that certain grasses which are 
harvested for hay also contain large quantities of nitrogen. This is 
especially true of clover. It is easily seen from the above how waste- 
ful is the practice, now happily almost extinct, of burning the residue 
of cereal crops, as, for instance, Indian cornstalks and the straw of 
wheat, in order to prevent them from obstructing subsequent tillage. 
In this wasteful process it is true that the phosphoric acid and potash 
are saved and returned to the soil, but all the nitrogenous compounds 
are practically lost and dissipated in the air. The quantity of am- 
monia and oxids of nitrogen which are produced in combustion is 
insignificant when compared with the total nitrogenous content of the 
refuse matters mentioned above. It is far better that these residual 
matters be chopped as finely as possible and turned under by the plow. 
Although they may not decay with sufficient rapidity to be of much 
benefit to the next crop, yet they will gradually become decomposed 
and serve a most valuable end in contributing fresh stores of humus 
and nitrogen to the arable soil. Combustion is the most wasteful 
and also the least scientific method of disposing of the refuse of the 


In former times it was a common practice among farmers to allow a 
field to lie fallow for one season in order to increase its fertility. The 
advisability of this process is extremely questionable. During a 
moderately dry summer there is probably very little loss experienced 
by plowing a field after the spring rains and keeping its surface suffi- 
ciently well cultivated during the summer to prevent the growth of 
weeds. In the absence of heavy rainfall the stores of available nitro- 
gen in such a soil will undoubtedly be increased during the summer, 
inasmuch as the processes of nitrification will be continued and the 
stores of nitrogen thus oxidized, in the absence of absorbing bodies, 


will remain in the soil. Even in case of rainfalls which may carry 
the soluble plant food below the arable soil, there may not be any 
notable loss, especially if such a downpour be followed by dry weather. 
In the latter case, by the evaporation from the surface and consequent 
capillary movement of the soil moisture upward, 'the available plant 
food carried below the reach of the rootlets of plants will be brought 
again toward the surface and rendered available. But in case of 
heavy rains, producing a thorough saturation and leaching of the soil, 
the losses in a field lying fallow during the summer will be very great, 
and it is not well at any time to take the risk. Especially is this 
statement true of fields which have lain fallow during the summer and 
which are afterwards exposed to the saturating rains of the autumn 
and winter. In these cases the nitrogen will be thoroughly extracted 
and all the soluble matters which may have accumulated during the 
summer will be lost. It is advisable therefore in all cases, instead of 
allowing the fields to lie fallow, to seed them with a catch crop, such 
as barley, rye, or peas, which may retain the products of nitrification. 
When the time comes for seeding the field with the intended crop 
the catch can be turned under with the plow and, in the process of 
decay, furnish again the nitrogenous food in an available form. This 
practice should never be neglected in fields which lie over during the 
winter in preparation for planting during the following spring. Of 
course, this statement does not apply so particularly to fields which 
may be plowed late in the autumn, after the activity of the nitrifying 
ferments is practically suspended for the winter. In a temperate 
climate fields may be plowed late in November or during the month 
of December and the freshly turned soil be exposed to the action of 
the weather during the winter without great danger of loss. 

In many localities even an earlier period might be chosen for the 
autumn plowing, which should be deep or accompanied by subsoiling. 
The loosened soil should be brought into good tilth and thus form 
an absorbent which will hold large quantities of moisture, becoming 
available for the following season during the period of deficient rains. 


A field is as poor as its most deficient fertilizing principle. A plant, 
like an animal, demands a balanced ration. It can not live upon phos- 
phoric acid alone. In order to secure the most economic method of 
fertilizing, the peculiarities of each field must be carefully studied and 
its particular deficiency in plant food determined. In the case under 
consideration it may happen that a field will have an abundant sup- 
ply of potash and phosphorus and be deficient only in nitrogen. In 
such a case its pristine fertility will be restored by the application of 
nitrogen alone, provided the other conditions in the composition of 
the soil are favorable to the development and activity of the ferments 
which oxidize nitrogen. Virgin soils as a rule are extremely rich in 


nitrogen. This arises from several causes. In the first place, such 
soils usually contain a large quantity of humus, and this humus is 
exceptionally rich in its nitrogenous elements. In the second place, 
a virgin soil is apt to be well protected from leaching. This is secured 
either by a forest growth or, on prairie land, by the grass. In the third 
place, there is a well-marked tendency in soils, especially those covered 
by grass, and presumably those also protected by forest growth, to 
develop ferments capable of oxidizing the free nitrogen of the air. 
When virgin soils are subjected to cultivation, it is found that their 
nitrogen content as a rule diminishes most rapidly as compared with 
that of the other leading plant foods. Hence it becomes necessary 
sooner or later, if maximum crops are to be maintained, to supply 
nitrogenous food. Attention has already been called to the use of 
the. stores of nitrogen which have already been oxidized for fertiliza- 
tion. It is evident, however, that only a very small part of the nitrog- 
enous needs of arable fields can be supplied in this way. Further 
than this, it must not be forgotten that in the use of a substance like 
Chile saltpeter there is added to the soil a material which can in no 
manner foster the growth and development of nitrifying organisms. 
To feed a soil with a food of this kind alone, therefore, would be to 
virtually produce a famine in respect of the nitrifying ferments which 
it contains. 

It is therefore highly important that additional methods of supply- 
ing the nitrogenous foods of plants should be practiced. Stall manures 
and the refuse of cattle and poultry yards furnish considerable quanti- 
ties of nitrogenous materials suited to the needs of the soil ferments, 
and useful after oxidation to the growing crop. In the growth of 
leguminous plants, as has already been intimated, another important 
supply of organic nitrogen may be secured, some of which, at least, 
is a clear gain from the atmosphere. Other important forms of nitrog- 
enous materials are found in the pressed cakes left after the extrac- 
tion of the oil from oil-producing seeds, such as flax and cotton seed. 
These cakes are exceptionally rich in nitrogenous matter, which may 
be secured for the field both by the direct application of the ground 
material to the soil or by first feeding it to animals, the part which 
escapes digestion in the latter case being still a valuable fertilizing 
material. In the case of cotton-seed cake, moreover, it should not be 
forgotten that there is some danger in feeding it, especially to young 
cattle, on account of the poisonous nitrogenous bases (cholin and be- 
tain) which it contains. These poisonous bases produce no deleteri- 
ous effects whatever in the soil, although it is doubtful whether they 
are attacked very readily by the nitrifying ferments. Other sources 
of nitrogenous foods for the soil ferments are found in the refuse of 
slaughterhouses. Dried blood is perhaps the richest in nitrogen of 
any organic substance that is known, and is readily attacked by the 
soil ferments. The nitrogenous refuse of slaughtered animals, after 


the extraction of the fat, is dried and ground and sold under the name 
of tankage. It is a substance very -rich in nitrogenous matter. The 
bones of animals are not only valuable on account of the phosphoric 
acid which they contain, but also have a large percentage of nitrog- 
enous material which renders them particularly well suited for appli- 
cation to a soil deficient both in phosphoric acid and nitrogen. For 
this reason, burning bones before grinding them for fertilizing pur- 
poses, which is done in some localities, is extremely wasteful. For a 
similar reason, also, the composting of coarsely ground fresh bones 
with wood ashes is not to be recommended because of the tendency of 
the alkali of the ashes to set free, in the form of ammonia, at least a 
part of the nitrogenous content of the bones. 


The farmer, happily, is not confined alone to the land for the sources 
of organic nitrogen with which to supply the demands of the nitrify- 
ing ferments of his field. The ocean is made to contribute to the 
stores of nitrogenous matters to which the farmer has access. The 
vast quantities of seaweed which are thrown up annually upon our 
shores are rich in nitrogenous matters. The value of this material, 
however, is not generally appreciated, but in some parts of the coun- 
try it is carefully gathered and utilized. The value of this product 
gathered annually upon the shores of Rhode Island alone is nearly 
$100,000. While seaweed, for obvious reasons, can only be success- 
fully applied in marine littoral agriculture, yet the extent of agricul- 
tural lands bordering on the sea is so great as to render the commercial 
importance of the matter of the highest degree of interest. Seaweed 
is not valuable for its nitrogenous constituents alone, but also carries 
large quantities of potash and phosphoric acid, and thus, to a certain 
degree, it may be regarded as a complete fertilizer. But the seaweed 
which is thrown upon our shores is not the only source of nitrogenous 
food which we receive from the ocean. In the animal life of the ocean 
are gathered vast quantities of nitrogenous materials. The quantity 
of albuminoid matter in the water-free substance of the flesh of fish 
is enormously high as compared with that of ordinary foods. It may 
be said to be, approximately, 75 per cent of the water-free substance. 
Some varieties of fish are taken alone for their oil product and agri- 
cultural value. This is especially true of the menhaden, vast quan- 
tities of which are annually brought to land, and after being passed 
through the oil factory are ground and distributed as fish scrap to the 
manufacturers of fertilizers. The practice of using fish for fertiliz- 
ing purposes is many centuries old ; but until recent years the farm- 
ers residing along the coast were the only ones receiving any benefit 
therefrom. At the present time the nitrogenous elements taken from 
the sea find their way to the gardens, truck lands, and fields of the 



It is a well-established principle of farming that there are certain 
crops which can not be grown continuously upon the same field, while 
in the case of other crops almost an indefinite growth can be secured. 
Broadly, it may be said that cereals can be grown upon the same field 
almost indefinitely and without fertilization. In such cases the large 
crops of cereals which are at first obtained rapidly diminish in quan- 
tity until they reach a certain minimum limit, at which point they 
tend to remain, with variations in yield due only to seasonal influences. 
On the other hand, root crops of all kinds, and especially leguminous 
crops, do not continue to flourish upon the same soil, even when lib- 
erally fertilized. The necessity for rotation, therefore, is far greater 
in the latter class of crops than with the cereals. It appears from the 
result of the scientific investigations attending this difference of 
behavior that the relations of these two classes of growing crops are 
different toward the soil ferments. In the case of the cereals the 
quantity of nitrogen which they require can be obtained from humus, 
or other sources, with little effort. In the case of the other class of 
crops, such as root crops and those of a leguminous nature, it appears 
that the humus should be particularly rich in nitrogen, and that when 
by the activity of the soil ferments the percentage of nitrogen is 
reduced to a certain limit there is no longer a possibility of a suffi- 
ciently vigorous nitrification to meet the demands of the growing veg- 
etables. There is thus a scientific basis, as well as practical reasons, 
for a frequent rotation of crops. Even in the case of cereals, which, 
as mentioned above, can be grown with considerable success without 
rotation, experience has shown that a change from one crop to another 
is always beneficial. 


The term humus is applied to those constituents of the soil which 
have been derived chiefly from the decay of vegetable matter. In 
this decay the original structure of the vegetable has been entirely 
lost, and the residue, in the form of vegetable mold of a black or 
brownish color, is left distributed in the soil. In the processes of 
decay the organic matter of the vegetable is converted largely into 
acids of the humic series and the nitrogenous principles of the plant 
become changed from an albuminoid to a more inert form, in which it 
is more readily preserved. It is this practically inert form of nitro- 
gen on which the soil ferments exercise their activity in preparing it 
for the uses of the plant. It has been a commonly accepted theory 
in the past, especially since the time of Liebig, that the organic prin- 
ciples of- humus of every description suffer entire decomposition 
under the action of fermentative germs before being absorbed as 
plant nutriment. Recent investigations, however, tend to show that 
in some instances the organic elements of humus itself may serve as 


food for plants without undergoing entire decomposition. "Whether 
or not the nitrogenous principles of the humus can thus be employed 
has not been determined, but that the humus itself, or some con- 
stituents thereof, can be absorbed by the plant I have myself often 
noticed, especially in the case of sugar cane grown upon a rich veg- 
etable mold. The juices expressed from such canes contain the 
organic matter of the humus to a certain extent unchanged, and 
the sugar and molasses made therefrom are distinctly impregnated 
in the raw state with this organic matter. 

These facts have a tendency to raise again the question concerning 
the purely mineral character of plant food, which for many years was 
considered as definitely settled. Recent progress in synthetic chem- 
istry has shown that there is no impassable barrier between organic 
and inorganic classes of compounds. By the union, for instance, of 
lime and carbon under the influence of the electric arc, a substance is 
obtained — calcium carbide — which, when thrown upon water, evolves 
the gas, acetylene, which was formerly supposed to be wholly of 
organic origin. In hundreds of other instances the barriers between 
organic and inorganic substances have been broken down in the 
laboratory, and organic bodies as complicated in their nature as 
sugars have been formed by pure synthesis. The chemistry of the 
vegetable organism is admittedly superior to that of the chemical 
laboratory, and while there is no doubt of the fact that the vast pre- 
ponderance of vegetable food is of a mineral nature, it would not be 
safe to deny to the vegetable the ability to absorb to a certain extent 
organic compounds. 

There is, however, at the present time but little evidence to show 
that organic compounds of a nitrogenous nature are ever absorbed by 
plants, and therefore, even in the case of humus, we must still con- 
tend, at least for the present, that its nitrogenous constituents only 
become available for plant food after having been fully oxidized by 
the action of the soil ferments. 


It is evident from the preceding pages that a study of the soil for 
agricultural purposes is incomplete which does not include a deter- 
mination of the character and vigor of the ferments which it contains. 
This necessarily introduces into the practice of soil analysis the 
processes of bacteriological examination. It is not the purpose at 
the present time to describe these processes, but to give only to the 
general reader as clear an idea as possible of the principles which 
underlie the' analysis of soils for the purpose of determining the 
activity of their nitrifying ferments. 


First of all, the method of sampling must be such as to secure 
for examination portions of soil which certainly contain no other 


organisms than those locally found therein. The methods of secur- 
ing the samples are purely technical and will be fully described in 
a special bulletin from the Division of Chemistry of the Department 
of Agriculture. 


Many readers of these pages who are not bacteriologists will be 
interested in knowing the character of the solution which is used for 
testing the nitrifying vitality of the ferments in the soil. A solution 
which we have found very useful for this purpose is composed of the 
following constituents: Potassium phosphate, 1 gram; magnesium 
sulphate, half a gram ; ammonium sulphate, two- tenths gram ; calcium 
chloride, a trace, and calcium carbonate in excess of the amount 
which will be necessary to combine with all the nitric acid produced 
from the ammonium sulphate present. The above quantities of 
materials are dissolved or suspended in 1 liter (about 1 quart) of 
water, and one-tenth of this volume is used for each culture solution. 
This quantity is placed in an Erlenmeyer flask, which is then ster- 
ilized, after stoppering with cotton, by being kept at the temperature 
of boiling water for an hour on three successive days. The flask itself, 
before using, should be thoroughly sterilized by heating to 300° F. 
for an hour. 

The calcium carbonate employed in the above culture solution 
should not be prepared by finely grinding marble or chalk, but in a 
chemical way by precipitation. It is best thoroughly sterilized sep- 
arately and then added to the flask immediately before seeding. The 
sterilized spoon which is used for seeding holds, approximately, half a 
gram of the soil. This spoon is filled from the contents of one of the 
freshly opened sample tubes, underneath a glass hood, the plug of 
cotton is lifted from the sterilized flask, and the contents of the spoon 
quickly introduced and the plug of cotton replaced. While the above 
details are well known to the practical bacteriologist, they are not 
appreciated, as a rule, by the general reader. Prom the numerous 
inquiries concerning this process which have been received at the 
Department it is believed that the above brief outline of the method 
of procedure of securing samples of soil and seeding sterilized solu- 
tions therewith will be useful. 


It will be seen from the above description that the object of the 
tests in question is to determine the activity and strength of the 
nitrous and nitric organisms alone, inasmuch as the process begins 
with an ammoniacal salt. At the end of five days from the time of 
the first seeding a portion of the solution is withdrawn in a sterilized 
pipette for the purpose of determining whether or not the process of 
nitrification has commenced; and if so, to what extent it has pro- 
ceeded. This may be accomplished by either determining whether 
' 2 A 95 i 


any ammonia have been destroyed or whether any nitrous or nitric 
acids have been produced. These processes are of a purely chemical, 
technical nature and therefore would not be properly described in 
this place. In the case of an active and fertile soil the nitrifying 
process begins promptly, and as a rule continues with unabated 
vigor until the whole of the nitrogen present in the ammonium salt 
is converted into nitric acid. In very favorable circumstances this 
object will be accomplished in about six weeks. When the organisms 
in the sample are few in number or deficient in vitality, the nitrifi- 
cation does not begin for a long time, and then goes on with great 
slowness. By tracing the progress of the fermentation, as described 
above, it is seen how easy it is to compare various samples of soil in 
respect of their nitrifying power. If after four or five weeks no 
trace of nitrification has been found, the soils are regarded as being 
practically deficient in nitrifying ferments. This often happens with 
samples taken at a depth of 3 or more feet, or even in the case of 
surface soils or others subjected to conditions inimical to fermenta- 
tive life. 


In the actual work which has been done in this Department to fol- 
low the progress of nitrification in culture solutions, it has been found 
convenient to determine the rate of the fermentative change by the 
determination of the nitrous and nitric acids produced. It is evident 
that in the process of fermentation three cases may arise. In the 
first place, the nitrous fermentation may occur first, and after its 
completion the nitric may follow it. This is a condition which evi- 
dently would rarely arise, and could only occur when the nitrous 
ferment was present in such a predominating quantity as to subdue 
and restrain the vitality of the nitric ferment. In the second place, 
the two fermentations could go on synchronously, and in this case 
the solution when tested would never contain more than the merest 
trace of nitrous acid. This condition of affairs would only occur 
when the two ferments were present in about equal numbers and 
endowed with equal vitality. In the third place, and this is the one 
which commonly occurs, the two fermentations go on synchronously, 
but at first the nitrous fermentation is more vigorous, so that there 
may be a considerable accumulation of nitrous acid in the solution. 
After a few weeks the nitric fermentation begins to gain in vitality 
by reason of the fact that the raw material on which the nitrous 
ferment worked has become nearly exhausted. The quantity of 
nitrous acid, therefore, which was at first formed would gradually 
begin to disappear, and finally, if the examination be continued long 
enough, be reduced to zero at or before the time when the total 
amount of nitrogen present would be converted into nitric acid. 

In order to represent the progress of the fermentation, it has been 
found most convenient to use the graphic form of illustration. The 



method of doing this is illustrated in the accompanying chart (fig. 1), 
showing the progress of nitrification in a sample of soil taken at a 
depth of 15 inches below the surface on the 27th of April, 1895, at 
the Canebrake station in Alabama. The culture solution was seeded 
with a sample of this soil on the 3d of May and the progress of nitri- 
fication is represented in the chart. The figures in the perpendicular 
column on the left represent the parts per million of nitrous or nitric 
acid. The continuous line represents the sum of the nitrous and nitric 
acids. The dotted line represents the nitrous acid in the solution. 
At any given time the actual amount of nitric acid present can be 








































Pig. 1.— Diagram showing progress of nitrification in a solution seeded with soil ferments. 

found by taking the difference between the continuous and dotted 
lines. Thus, at the end of the fifth week it is seen that there were 
nearly four parts of nitric acid present per million. The diagram 
shows that no action took place during the first two weeks after 
seeding. During the third week there was a vigorous evolution of 
nitrous acid, with only a trace of nitric acid. During the fourth 
week, attending a depression of temperature, the bacterial action was 
less active. During the fifth week both the nitrous and nitric organ- 
isms were active, attending a considerable rise of temperature. After 
the fifth week the nitrous acid began rapidly to disappear, being 


converted into nitric acid. The horizontal position, however, of the 
continuous line shows that no additional nitrous acid was formed 
from the ammonia during the sixth week. During the seventh week 
there was no activity either of the nitrous or the nitric ferment. Dur- 
ing the eighth and ninth weeks both ferments were again active, the 
nitrous acid being converted into nitric as soon as formed. 

The second diagram (fig. 2) gives the variations in temperature of 
the closet where the nitrification took place during the whole time of 
observation. The upper line represents the maximum and the lower 
the minimum temperatures at the time mentioned. It will be seen by 
comparing the two diagrams that there is in general quite a marked 
agreement between the rate of nitrification and the degree of temper- 
ature. This is shown by the slow rate of nitrification during the 
third and fourth weeks and the rapid rate during the fifth week. 


Fig. 2.— Diagram showing relation of temperature to rate of nitrification. 

It is evident that many conditions beyond the control of the oper- 
ator may serve to render the observations upon the rate of nitrifica- 
tion somewhat unreliable, but in general the data of nitrification 
properly ascertained will give an unerring insight into the character 
of a soil as affecting its ability to furnish nitrogen to the growing 
plant, and hence to that extent to the degree of its fertility. 


It is evident from an inspection of the processes mentioned above 
that the ferments which are obtained in the culture solutions are not 
confined to the nitrous and nitric organisms. All the ferments which 
the sample of soil may have contained of every description suited 
to grow in the culture solution employed wjll be developed. The 


solution, therefore, after the nitrification is complete, contains not 
only the nitrous and nitric microorganisms, but also all the other 
bacteria contained in the original sample capable of growing in the 
environment provided. It is probable that in different parts of the 
country and at different latitudes the species of nitrifying ferment 
may vary, and therefore it is of great importance to continue the 
examination of these bacteria until pure cultures are obtained. The 
methods of securing these are so technical and of so purely a bacte- 
riological nature as to exclude them from description here. It will 
be sufficient to say that these pure cultures are obtained by seeding 
new cultures directly from the solutions obtained in the nitrifications 
produced by the soils as described. This work is continued until all 
the disturbing bacteria are eliminated, and there are left only those 
which will produce under favorable circumstances the nitrous and 
nitric fermentations alone. 


1. Conclusions which are easily derived from the above data are 
that the soil is not merely dead, inert matter, but, on the contrary, in 
the highest degree a living organism. It contains numerous ferments 
which in their activity either favor or restrain the growth of crops. 
It is the part of scientific agriculture to determine, in so far as possible, 
the laws which govern the evolution of both of these forms of bacteria 
for the purpose of securing the greatest activity of the beneficial 
organisms and the least activity of the inimical ones. 

2. The bacteria which provide nitrogenous food for plants are of 
three great classes. One of these exerts its activity only on organic 
nitrogen or the nitrogen contained in the humus of the soil. The 
second class is developed symbiotically with the growing plants, herd- 
ing in colonies upon their rootlets, and securing in their vital activity 
an oxidation of the free nitrogen of the atmosphere. The third class 
of organisms and the one least known appears to have the ability, in 
an independent form of life and without the aid of plant vitality, to 
secure the oxidation of atmospheric nitrogen. The first of the classes 
mentioned above is itself separated into three divisions comprising 
the organisms which produce ammonia, nitrous and nitric acids, 

3. Many crops, such as the cereals, have no ability in themselves to 
increase the stores of nitrogen in the soil. Such crops may be grown 
for many years upon the same field, in which case the nitrogenous 
supply of the field will at first be rapidly diminished, with a corre- 
sponding decrease in the crop itself. Finally a time will come when 
a certain minimum crop will be produced apparently for an indefinite 
time, varying only under seasonal influences. 

4. Other vegetables, especially leguminous plants, favor the devel- 
opment of the organisms which are capable of oxidizing free nitrogen 
and thereby tend to increase the supply of available nitrogenous 


matter. These crops, however, together with certain root crops, can 
not be grown successfully without rotation, and all crops are benefited 
by a judicious succession. 

5. The summer fallowing of land is highly injudicious, and espe- 
cially if the field be left bare through the winter. The nitrates which 
are formed by the activity of the nitrifying organisms in such cases 
are easily washed out by heavy rains and lost to agricultural uses 
perhaps for thousands of years. 

6. Late autumnal plowing, after the activity of the nitrifying organ- 
isms has practically ceased, may prove beneficial, especially to some 
crops, by exposing the soil to the decomposing effects of the frosts of 

7. In past geological ages vast quantities of nitrogenous matter 
have been oxidized and stored, in the form of nitrates, and these 
stores are now available for the uses of agriculture. 

Nitric acid, in the form of nitrates, should be employed only as a 
temporary fertilizer in order to improve the fertility of the soil to 
such an extent as to make profitable the growing of leguminous crops. 
The continued use of nitrates for fertilizing purposes deprives the 
nitrifying organisms of their functional activity, and hence tends to 
diminish their numbers and to enfeeble their work. Nitrates should 
only be applied in small quantities at a time, sufficient to meet the 
immediate demands of the crop. It is better to apply the dressing of 
nitrates at two or three different times during the growth of the crop, 
rather than to use it all at once. 

8. The use of sewage for fertilizing purposes is not to be commended 
because of the danger of contaminating the soil with pathogenic fer- 
ments, which may subsequently infect the health of man and beast. 
These ferments may attach themselves to vegetables and thus enter 
the animal organism, or they may remain with a suspended vitality 
for an indefinite period in the soil and awaken to pernicious activity 
when a favorable environment is secured. 

9. The study of the nitrifying organisms in the soil and their 
culture and isolation will in the end prove of great benefit to practical 
agriculture by showing the method in which favoring organisms can 
be fostered and the activity of the inimical organisms reduced to a 



By E. W. Hilgard, 
Professor of Agriculture and Agricultural Chemistry, University of California. 


Alkali lands must be pointedly distinguished from the salty lands 
of sea margins or marshes, from which they differ both in their origin 
and essential nature. Marsh lands derive their salts from sea water 
that occasionally overflows them, and the salts which impregnate 
them are essentially " sea salts;" that is, common salt, together with 
bittern, Epsom salt, etc. Very little of what would be useful to 
vegetation or desirable as a fertilizer is contained in the salts impreg- 
nating such soils; and they are by no means always intrinsically rich 
in plant food, but vary greatly in this respect. 

Alkali lands bear no definite relation to the sea; they are mostly 
remote from it or from any former sea bed, so that they have some- 
times been designated as "terrestrial salt lands." Their existence is 
definitely traceable to climatic conditions alone. They are the natural 
result of a light rainfall, insufficient to leach out of the land the salts 
that always form in it by the progressive weathering of the rock 
powder of which all soils largely consist. Where the rainfall is 
abundant, that portion of the salts corresponding to "sea salts" is 
leached out into the bottom water, and with this passes through 
springs and rivulets into the country drainage, to be finally carried 
to the ocean. Another portion of the salts formed by weathering, 
however, is partially or wholly retained by the soil; it is that portion 
chiefly useful as plant food. 

It follows that when, in consequence of insufficient rainfall, all or 
most of the salts are retained in the soil, they will contain not only 
the ingredients of sea water, but also those useful to plants. In 
rainy climates a large portion, even of the latter, is leached out and 
carried away. In extremely arid climates their entire mass remains 
in the soils; and, being largely soluble in water, evaporation during 
the dry season brings them to the surface, where they may accumulate 
to such an extent as to render ordinary useful vegetation impossible, 
as is seen in "alkali spots," and sometimes in extensive tracts of 
"alkali desert." 

In looking over a rainfall map of the globe we see that a very con- 
siderable portion of the earth's surface has deficient rainfall, the 



latter term being commonly meant to imply any annual average less 
than 20 inches (500 millimeters). The arid region thus defined 
includes, in North America, most of the country lying west of the 
one hundredth meridian up to the Cascade Mountains, and northward 
beyond the line of the United States; southward, it reaches far into 
Mexico, including especially the Mexican plateau. In South America 
it includes all the Pacific Slope (Peru and Chile) south to Araucania; 
and eastward of the Andes, the greater portion of the plains of west- 
ern Brazil and Argentina. In Europe only a small portion of the 
Mediterranean border is included; but the entire African coast belt 
opposite, with the Saharan and Libyan deserts, Egypt, and Arabia 
are included therein, as well as a considerable portion of South 
Africa. In Asia, Asia Minor, Syria (with Palestine), Mesopotamia, 
Persia, and northwestern India up to the Ganges, and northward, the 
great plains or steppes of central Asia eastward to Mongolia and 
western China fall into the same category, as does also a large por- 
tion of the Australian continent. 

Over these vast areas alkali lands occur to a greater or less extent, 
the exceptions being the mountain regions and adjacent lands on the 
side exposed to the prevailing winds. It will therefore be seen that 
the problem of the utilization of alkali lands for agriculture is not of 
local interest only, but is of world-wide importance. It will also be 
noted that many of the countries referred to are those in which the 
most ancient civilizations have existed in the past, but which at 
present, with few exceptions, are occupied by semicivilized people 
only. It is doubtless from this cause that the nature of alkali lands 
has until now been so little understood that even their essential dis- 
tinctness from the sea-border lands has been but lately recognized in 
full. Moreover, the great intrinsic fertility of these lands has been 
very little appreciated, their repellent aspect causing them to be gen- 
erally considered as waste lands. 

This aspect is essentially due to their natural vegetation being in 
most cases confined to plants useless to man, commonly designated 
as "saline vegetation," of which but little is usually relished by 
cattle. Notable exceptions to this rule occur in Australia and Africa, 
where the "saltbushes" of the former and the "karroo" vegetation of 
the latter form valuable pasture grounds. Apart from these, however, 
.all efforts to find culture plants for these lands generally acceptable, 
or at least profitable, in their natural condition, have not been very 
successful. . » 


When we examine plants that have been injured by alkali, we will 
almost invariably find that the damage has been done near the base 
of the trunk, or root crown; very rarely at any considerable depth in 
the soil itself. In the case of green herbaceous stems, the bark is 
found to have turned to a brownish tinge for half an inch or more, 


so as to be soft and easily peeled off. In the case of trees, the rough 
bark is found to be of a dark, almost black, tint, and the green layer 
underneath has, as in the case of an herbaceous stem, been turned 
brown to a greater or less extent. In either case the plant has been 
practically "girdled," the effect being aggravated by the diseased sap 
poisoning more or less the whole stem and roots. The plant may 
not die, but it will be quite certain to become unprofitable to the 

The fact that in cultivated land the injury is almost invariably 
found to occur near the surface of the soil, concurrently with the 
well-known fact that the maximum accumulation of salts at the 
surface is always found near the end of the dry season, indicates 
clearly that this accumulation is due to evaporation at the surface. 
The latter is often found covered with a crust consisting of earth 
cemented by the crystallized salts, and later in the season with a 
layer of whitish dust resulting from the drying out of the crust first 
formed. It is this dust which becomes so annoying to the inhabitants 
and travelers in alkali regions, when high winds prevail, irritating 
the eyes and nostrils and parching the lips. 


One of the most annoying and discouraging features of the cultiva- 
tion of lands in alkali regions is that, although in their natural 
condition they may show but little alkali on their surface, and that 
mostly in limited spots, usually somewhat depressed below the general 
surface, these spots are found to enlarge rapidly as irrigation is prac- 
ticed; for since alkali salts are the symptoms and result of insufficient 
rainfall, irrigation is a necessary condition of agriculture wherever 
they prevail. Under irrigation neighboring spots will oftentimes 
merge together into one large one, and at times the entire area, once 
highly productive and perhaps covered with valuable plantations of 
trees or vines, will become incapable of supporting useful growth. 
This annoying phenomenon is popularly known as "the rise of the 
alkali " in the western United States, but is equally well known in 
India and other irrigation regions. 


The process by which the salts rise to the surface is the same as 
that by which oil rises in a wick. The soil being impregnated with 
a solution of the alkali salts, and acting like the wick, the salts nat- 
urally remain behind on the surface as the water evaporates, the 
process only stopping when all the moisture in the soil is exhausted. 
We thus not infrequently find that after an unusually heavy rain- 
fall there follows a heavier accumulation of alkali salts at the surface, 
while a light shower produces no perceptible permanent effect. We 
are thus taught that within certain limits the more water evaporating 
2 A 95 4* 


during the season the heavier will be the rise of the alkali. The 
limitation is, clearly, that the water must not be so abundant as to 
leach the salts through the soil and subsoil into the subdrainage. 


In order to gain a basis for the possible means of reclaiming alkali 
lands, it is evidently necessary to determine by direct observation the 
manner in which the salts are distributed in the soils under different 
conditions. This can be done by sampling the soil at short intervals 
of depth and leaching out and analyzing each sample separately. 
While this involves a great deal of work, it is manifestly the only con- 
clusive method. It requires the sampling of the soil under at least 
three different conditions, as shown below. 

A series of such investigations has been carried out at the California 
Experiment Station during the years 1894 and 1895, with samples 
taken in or near the substation near Tulare, Cal. , with the results as 
given below. 


Before proceeding to discuss the results of these investigations, it 
is necessary to consider the composition of the alkali salts in a general 
manner. Broadly speaking, it may be said that, all the world over, 
they consist of three chief ingredients, namely, common salt, Glauber 
salt (sulphate of soda), and salsoda or carbonate of soda. The latter 
causes what is popularly known as "black alkali," from the black 
spots or puddles seen on the surface of lands tainted with it, owing to 
the dissolution of the soil humus, while the other two salts constitute 
"white alkali," which is known to be very much milder in its effect 
on plants than the black. In most cases all three are present, and all 
may be considered as practically valueless or noxious to plant growth. 
With them, however, there are almost always associated, in varying 
amounts, sulphate of potash, phosphate of soda, and nitrate of soda, 
representing the three elements — potassium, phosphorus, and nitro- 
gen — upon the presence of which in the soil, in available form, the 
welfare of our crops so essentially depends and which we aim to sup- 
ply in fertilizers. The potash salt is usually present to the extent of 
from 5 to 20 per cent of the total salts; phosphate, from a fraction 
to as much as 4 per cent; the nitrate, from a fraction to as much as 
20 per cent. In black alkali the nitrate is usually low, the phosphate 
high ; in the white the reverse is true. 

It is thus clear that if we were to make a rule of reclaiming alkali 
lands by leaching out the salts with abundance of irrigation water, 
we would get rid not only of the noxious salts, but also of those 
ingredients upon which productiveness primarily depends, and for 
which we pay heavily in fertilizers. This is evidently to be avoided, 
if possible. 


Figs. 3 and 4 represent the 
condition of the salts in an 
"alkali spot" as found at the 
end of the dry season. The 
soil was sampled to the depth 
of 2 feet, at intervals of 3 
inches each. The depths are 
entered in the vertical line to 
the left; the percentages of 
the total salts and of each of 
the principal ingredients are 
entered in decimal fractions 
of 1 per cent on horizontal 
lines running to the right, as 
indicated on the top line of the 
plate. Broken lines connect- 
ing the data in each case facil- 
itate the understanding of the 
results. It is thus easy to see 
that at this time almost the 
entire mass of the salts was 
accumulated within the first 
6 inches from the surface, 
while lower down the soil con- 
tained so little that few cul- 
ture plants would be hurt by 

Fig. 5 represents similarly 
the state of things in a natural 
soil alongside of the alkali 
spot, but in which the native 
vegetation of brilliant flowers 
develops annually without 
any hindrance from alkali. 
Samples were taken from this 
spot in March, near the end 
of the wet, and in September, 
near the end of the dry, sea- 
son, and each series fully ana- 
lyzed. There was scarcely a 
noticeable difference in the 
results obtained. It is seen 
in the figure that down to the 
depth of 15 inches there was 
practically no alkali found 
(0.035), and it was within 




S g 

* 5 S 6; 

f\> Co o> C> 





. S 


• § 


. f 

















#2 + 


XK 1 


2 ff 





+ ; 

3 g 




2 * 
© 0Q 

2 9 




m l 

- 1 

O 9 

to Qj 









s 1 













1 \ 


r * 


V \ 


i * 
j x 



8 . 





T " ~S 

1 K 

— i S.-j 

3 ** 
1 ' & 


r i 3 




' ' 8 i 

3 ; «i 




5 t* 

















1 ; 





1 K 

3 T 




,5- '*i' 

51 cs . 

3_ 5 ' 


r r 


3 vS -T-] 

■s. K » ', 

Li £s 



', s °* 

1.J » 







1\ _ 




















** * 


v --^?l« 

?4! :£«* : . v 


•)<o »> 5. Sj ^ Si «t . 





GG <U 
FJ ft 


these 15 inches of soil that the 
native plants mostly had their 
roots and developed their an- 
nual growth. But from that 
level downward the alkali rap- 
idly increased, and reached a 
maximum at about 33 inches 
(0.529), decreasing rapidly 
thence until, at the end of 
the fourth foot in depth, 
there was not more alkali 
than within the first foot from 
the surface. In other words, 
the bulk of the salts had 
accumulated at the great- 
est depth to which the 
annual rainfall (7 inches) 
ever reaches, forming there a 
sheet of tough, intractable 
clay hardpan. The shallow- 
rooted native plants germi- 
nated their seeds freely on 
the alkali-free surface, their 
roots kept above the strongly 
charged subsoil, and through 
them and the stems and foli- 
age all the soil moisture was 
evaporated by the time the 
plants died. Thus no alkali 
was brought up from below 
by evaporation. The seeds 
shed would remain uninjured 
and would again germinate 
the coming season. 

It is thus that the luxuriant 
vegetation of the plains, dot- 
ted with occasional alkali 
spots, is maintained, the spots 
themselves being almost al- 
ways depressions in which the 
rain water may gather, and 
where, in consequence of the 
increased evaporation, the 
noxious salts have risen to 
the surface and render im- 
possible all but the most 


resistant saline growth, particularly when, in consequence of macera- 
tion and fermentation in the soil, the formation of carbonate of soda 
(black alkali) has caused the surface to sink and become almost 

Fig. 6 shows the state of things after several years' cultivation with 
irrigation on the same land as in the last figure. A crop of barley 4 
feet high was growing on the land at the time. It is easy to see that 
here the condition of the soil is intermediate between the two pre- 
ceding figures. The irrigation water had dissolved the alkali of the 
subsoil and the abundant evaporation had brought it nearer the sur- 
face; but the shading by the barley crop and the evaporation of the 
moisture through its roots and leaves had prevented the salts from 
reaching the surface in such amounts as to injure the crop, although 
the tendency to rise is clearly shown. 

Ten feet from this spot was bare alkali ground on which barley had 
refused to grow. The result of its examination is shown in fig. 7, 
proving it to contain a somewhat larger proportion (one-fifth more) of 
alkali salts, and in these a larger relative proportion of carbonate 
(salsoda). The cause of the latter fact was that the gypsum used 
had not been sufficient to neutralize as large a proportion of the 
black alkali as in fig. 6, the same amount having been used on 
both places. Thus the seed was mostly destroyed before germina- 
tion, and of the few seedlings none lived beyond the fourth leaf. 
On the ground represented by fig. 3 previous treatment with gypsum 
had so far diminished the salsoda that the grain germinated freely 
and a very good crop of barley was harvested there without irrigation. 
The same season grain crops were almost a failure on alkali-free land 
in the same region. In connection with this result it should be noted 
as a general fact that alkali lands always retain a certain amount of 
moisture perceptible to the hand during the dry season, and that this 
moisture can be utilized by crops, so that at times when crops fail on 
nonalkaline land, good ones are obtained where a slight taint of alkali 
exists in the soil. Striking examples of this fact occur in the Spokane 
country within the great bend of the Columbia River, in the State of 
Washington ; and the same is illustrated by the luxuriant growth of 
weeds on the margin of alkali spots just beyond the limit of corrosive 

While the phenomena of alkali lands as outlined above undoubt- 
edly represent the vastly predominant conditions on level lands, yet 
there are exceptions due to surface conformations and to the local 
existence of sources of alkali salts outside of the soil itself. Such is 
the case where salts ooze out of strata cropping out on hillsides, as is 
the case at some points in the San Joaquin Valley in California and 
in parts of Colorado and Wyoming; also where, as in Hungary, saline 
clays underlie within reach of surface evaporation. 




1 ' 


















\ \ 




\ \ 







\ \ 







/ <3 








1 1 


/ " 

/ ' 
/ / 






i . 


N / 









l \ 


■I - '*-*- 












fl v 

' / 








. i 










y 4/ 




* * 


. "3 <0 0> £j 

k A ^ s a 



K. C» <0 <Q 1 A *^* *0 Co 
Ut <U ki 

51 j*j Cj 

C: »*. iz 

«u *•» M- 


Again, it not infrequently happens that in sloping valleys or basins, 
where the central (lowest) portion receives the salts leached out of 
the soils of the adjacent slopes, we find belts of greater or less width 
in which the alkali impregnation may reach to the depth of 10 or 
12 feet, usually within more or less definite layers of calcareous hard- 
pan, likewise the outcome of the leaching of the valley slopes. Such 

Amounts of Ingredients in 100 of Sou. 

.02 .04 .06 .OS ' .10 .IB .14 .Iff .18 


.B4- .2S 

Depth of 
Soil. 3 




Fig. G. — Diagram allowing amounts and composition of alkali salts at various depths in partly re- 
claimed alkali land. Tulare Experiment Station . 

areas, however, are usually quite limited, and are, of course, scarcely 
reclaimable without excessive expenditure, the more as they are often 
underlaid by saline bottom water. In these eases the predominant 
saline ingredient is usually common salt, as might be expected and 
as is exemplified on a large scale in the Great Salt Lake of Utah 
and in the ocean itself. 













H a 





































































-#- + 




«i <o » »i 

* * « =4 


!•<. O tn tn 
i N •> «S «9 


.8 * $ ? 


=3 * 

« to 

■° a 
a 3, 

■S M 

.3 B 


Summing up the conclusions from the foregoing observations and 
considerations, we find that — 

(1) The amount of soluble salts in alkali soils is usually limited; 
they are not supplied in indefinite quantities from the bottom water 
below. These salts have essentially been formed by weathering in 
the soil layer itself. 

(2) The salts move up and down within the upper 4 or 5 feet of the 
soil and subsoil, following the movement of the moisture, descending 
in the rainy season to the limit of the annual moistening as a maxi- 
mum, and then reascending or not according as surface evaporation 
may demand. At the end of the dry season, in untilled irrigated 
land, the entire mass of salts may be within 6 or 8 inches of the 

(3) The injury to vegetation is caused mainly or wholly within a 
few inches of the surface by the corrosion of the bark, usually near 
the root crown. This corrosion is strongest when carbonate of soda 
(salsoda) forms a large proportion of the salts; the soda then also 
dissolves the vegetable mold and causes blackish spots in the soil, 
popularly known as black alkali. 

(4) The injury caused by carbonate of soda is aggravated by its 
action in puddling the soil so as to cause it to lose its flaky condition, 
rendering it almost or quite untillable. It also tends to form in the 
depths of the soil layer a tough, impervious hardpan, which yields 
neither to plow, pick, nor crowbar. Its presence is easily ascertained 
by means of a pointed steel sounding rod. 

(5) While alkali lands share with other soils of the arid region the 
advantage of unusually high percentages of plant food in the insoluble 
form, 1 they also contain, alongside of the noxious salts, considerable 
amounts of soluble plant food. When, therefore, the action of the 
noxious salts is done away with, they should be profusely and last- 
ingly productive; particularly as they are always naturally somewhat 
moist in consequence of the attraction of moisture by the salts, and 
are therefore less liable to be injured from drought than the same soils 
when free from alkali. 


The most obvious mode of utilizing alkali lands is to occupy 
them with useful plants that are not affected by the noxious salts. 
Unfortunately, as has already been stated, but few such crops of 
general utility, especially for the commercial and labor conditions 
of this country, have as yet been found. Practically the most im- 
portant problem is to render these lands available for our ordinary 
cultures; and for this reason this part of the subject will be consid- 
ered first. 

'See Bulletin No. 3 of the United States Weather Bureau, 1892. 



Since evaporation of the soil moisture at the surface is what brings 
the alkali salts to the level where the main injury to plants occurs, 
it is obvious that evaporation should be prevented as much as possi- 
ble. This is the more important, as the saving of soil moisture, and 
therefore of irrigation water, is attainable by the same means. 

Three methods for this purpose are usually practiced by farmers 
and gardeners, viz, shading, mulching, and the maintenance of loose 
tilth in the surface soil to such depth as may be required by the 
climatic conditions. 

As to mulching, it is already well recognized in the alkali regions of 
California as an effective remedy in light cases. Fruit trees are fre- 
quently thus protected, particularly while young, after which their 
shade alone may (as in the case of low-trained orange trees) suffice to 
prevent injury. The same often happens in the case of low-trained 
vines, small fruit, and vegetables. Sanding of the surface to the 
depth of several inches was among the first attempts in this direction; 
but the necessity of cultivation, involving the renewal of the sand 
each season, renders this a costly method. Straw, leaves, and manure 
have been more successfully used; but even these, unless employed 
for the purpose of fertilization, involve more expense and trouble than 
the simple maintenance of very loose tilth of the surface soil through- 
out the dry season, a remedy which, of course, is equally applicable 
to field crops, and is in the case of some of these — e. g., cotton — a 
necessary condition of cultural success everywhere. The wide prev- 
alence of "light" soils in the arid' regions, from causes inherent in the 
climate itself, 1 renders this condition of relatively easy fulfillment. 

Aside, however, from the mere prevention of surface evaporation, 
another favorable condition is realized by this procedure, namely, the 
commingling of the heavily salt-charged surface layers with the rela- 
tively nonalkaline subsoil. Since in the arid regions the roots of all 
plants retire farther from the surface because of the deadly drought 
and heat of summer, it is usually possible to cultivate deeper than 
could safely be done with growing crops in humid climates. Yet, even 
here, the maxim of "deep preparation and shallow cultivation" is put 
into practice with advantage, only changing the measurements of 
depth to correspond with the altered climatic conditions. Thus, while 
in the eastern United States 4 inches is the accepted standard of 
depth for summer cultivation to preserve moisture without injury to 
the roots, that depth must in the arid region frequently be doubled in 
order to be effective, and will even then scarcely touch a living root 
in orchards and vineyards, particularly in unmanured and unirri- 
gated land. 

A glance at fig. 3 (p. 107), will show the great advantage of extra 

1 See Bulletin No. 3 of the United States Weather Bureau, p. 17. 


deep preparation in commingling the alkali salts accumulated near 
the surface with the lower soil layers, diffusing the salts through 
12 instead of 6 inches of soil mass. This will in very many cases 
suffice to render the growth of ordinary crops possible if, by subse- 
quent frequent and thorough cultivation, surface evaporation, and 
with it the reascent of the salts to the surface, is prevented. A 
striking example of the efficacy of this mode of procedure was given 
at the Tulare station, where a portion of a very bad alkali spot was 
trenched to the depth of 2 feet, throwing the surface soil to the bot- 
tom. The spot thus treated produced excellent wheat crops for a 
few years — the time it took the alkali salts to reascend to the surface. 

It should therefore be kept in mind that whatever else is done 
toward reclamation, deep preparation and thorough cultivation must 
be regarded as prime factors for the maintenance of production on 
alkali lands. 

The efficacy of shading, already referred to, is strikingly illustrated 
in the case of some field crops which, when once established, will 
thrive on fairly strong alkali soil, provided that a good thick "stand" 
has once been obtained. This is notably true of the great forage 
crop of the arid region, alfalfa, or lucern. Its seed is extremely 
sensitive to black alkali, and will decay in the ground unless pro- 
tected against it. But when once a full stand has been obtained, 
the field may endure for many years without a sign of injury. Here 
two effects combine, viz, the shading, and the evaporation through 
the deep roots and abundant foliage, which alone prevents, in a large 
measure, the ascent of the moisture to the surface. The case is then 
precisely parallel to that of the natural soil (see fig. 4), except that, 
as irrigation is practiced in order to stimulate production, the sheet 
of alkali hardpan will be dissolved and its salts spread through the 
soil more evenly. The result is that so soon as the alfalfa is taken 
off the ground and the cultivation of other crops is attempted, an 
altogether unexpectedly large amount of alkali comes to the surface 
and greatly impedes, if it does not altogether prevent, the immediate 
planting of other crops. Shallow-rooted annual crops that give but 
little shade, like the cereals, while measurably impeding the rise of 
the salts during their growth, frequently allow of enough rise after 
harvest to prevent reseeding the folloAving season. 


Since the amount of alkali that reaches the surface layer is largely 
dependent upon the varying conditions of rainfall or irrigation, and 
surface evaporation, it is difficult to foresee to what extent that 
accumulation may go, unless we know the total amount of salts 
present that may be called into action. This can be ascertained 
by a summation of the results obtained and shown in the diagrams 
for each layer, but more readily by the examination of one sample 


representing the average of the entire soil column of 4 feet. By cal- 
culating the figures so obtained to an acre of ground, we can at least 
approximate the limits within or beyond which crops will succeed or 
perish. Applying this procedure to the cases represented in the 
diagrams, and estimating the weight of the soil per acre-foot at 
4,000,000 pounds, we find in the land on which barley refused to 
grow the figures 32,470 and 43,660 pounds of total salts per acre, 
respectively, corresponding to 0.203 per cent for the first figure (the 
second, representing only the 2 surface feet, is not strictly compara- 
ble). For the land on which barley gave a full crop, we find for the 
May sample 25,550 pounds, equivalent to 0.159 per cent for the whole 
soil column of 4 feet. It thus appears that for barley the limits of 
tolerance lie between the above two figures, which might, of course, 
have been obtained equally well from an average sample of the 4-foot 
column by making a single analysis. It should be noted that in this 
case a full crop of barley was grown, even when the alkali consisted 
of fully one-half of the noxious carbonate of soda, proving that it is 
not necessary in every case to neutralize the entire amount of that 
salt by means of gypsum, which, in the present case, would have 
required about 9£ tons of gypsum per acre — an almost prohibitory 


To the chemist it is readily apparent that of the three sodium salts 
that usually constitute the bulk of "alkali" only the carbonate of 
soda is susceptible of being materially changed by any agent that 
can practically be applied to land. So far as we know, the salt of 
sodium least injurious to ordinary vegetation is the sulphate, com- 
monly called Glauber salt, which ordinarily forms the chief ingre- 
dient of white alkali. Thus barley is capable of resisting about 
five times more of the sulphate than of the carbonate, and quite 
twice as much as of common salt. Since the maximum percentage 
that can be resisted by plants varies materially with the kind of soil, 
it is difficult to give exact figures save with respect to particular 
cases. For the sandy loam of Tulare station the maximum for 
cereals may be approximately stated to be one-tenth of 1 per cent 
for salsoda, a fourth of 1 per cent for common salt, and from forty- 
five to fifty one-hundredths of 1 per cent for Glauber salt, within 
the first foot from the surface. For clay soils the tolerance is mark- 
edly less, especially as regards the salsoda, since in their case the 
injurious effect on the tilling qualities of the soil, already referred 
to, is superadded to the corrosive action of that salt. 

Since, then, so little carbonate of soda suffices to render soils un- 
cultivable, it frequently happens that its mere transformation into 
the sulphate is sufficient to remove all stress from alkali. Gypsum 
(land plaster) is the cheap and effective agent to bring about this 


transformation, provided water be also present. The amount required . 
per acre will, of course, vary with the amount of salts in the soil, all the 
way from a few hundred pounds to several tons in the case of strong 
alkali spots; but it is not usually necessary to add the entire quantity 
at once, provided that sufficient be used to neutralize the alkali near 
the surface and enough time be allowed for the action to take place. 
In very wet soil this may occur within a few weeks ; in merely damp 
soils, in the course of months; but usually the effect increases for 
years, as the salts rise from below. 

The effect of gypsum on black alkali land is often very striking, 
even to the eye. The blackish puddles and spots disappear, because 
the gypsum renders the dissolved humus insoluble and thus restores 
it to the soil. The latter soon loses its hard, puddled condition and 
crumbles and bulges into a loose mass into which water now soaks 
freely, bringing up the previously depressed spots to the general level 
of the land. On the surface thus changed seeds now germinate and 
grow without hindrance; and as the injury from alkali occurs at or 
near the surface, it is usually best to simply harrow in the plaster, 
leaving the water to carry it down in solution. Soluble phosphates 
present are decomposed so as to retain finely divided but less soluble 
phosphates in the soil. 

It must not be forgotten that this beneficial change may go back- 
ward if the land thus treated is permitted to be swamped by irri- 
gation water or otherwise. Under the same conditions naturally 
white alkali may turn black. Of course, gypsum is of no benefit 
whatever on soils containing no salsoda, but only Glauber and com- 
mon salt. 


In case the amount of salts in the soil should be so great that even 
the change worked by gypsum is insufficient to render it available for 
useful crops, the only remedy left is to remove the salts partially or 
wholly from the land. Two chief methods are available for this pur- 
pose. One is to remove the salts, with more or less earth, from the 
surface at the end of the dry season, either by sweeping or by means 
of a horse scraper set so as to carry off a certain depth of soil. Thus 
sometimes in a single season one-third or one-half of the total salts 
may be got rid of, the loss of a few inches of surface soil being of 
little moment in the deep soils of the arid region. 1 The other method 
is to leach them out of the soil into the country drainage, supplement- 
ing by irrigation water what is left undone by the deficient rainfall. 

It is not practicable, as many suppose, to wash the salts off the sur- 
face by a rush of water, as they instantly soak into the ground at the 
first touch. Nor is there any sensible relief from allowing the water 
to stand on the land and then drawing it off; in this case also the 

'See Bulletin No. 3 of the United States Weather Bureau, p. 19. 


salts soak down ahead of the water, and the water standing on the 
surface remains almost unchanged. In very pervious soils and in 
the case of white alkali the washing out can often be accomplished 
without special provision for underdrainage by leaving the water on 
the land sufficiently long. But the laying of regular underdrains 
greatly accelerates the work, and renders success certain. 

An important exception, however, occurs in the case of black alkali 
in most lands. In this case either the impervious hardpan or (in the 
case of actual alkali spots) the impenetrability of the surface soil 
itself will render even underdrains ineffective unless the salsoda and 
its effects on the soil are first destroyed by the use of gypsum, as 
above detailed. This is not only necessary in order to render drain- 
age and leaching possible, but is also advisable in order to prevent 
the leaching out of the valuable humus and soluble phosphates which 
are rendered insoluble (but not unavailable to plants) by the action 
of the gypsum. "Wherever black alkali is found, therefore, the appli- 
cation of gypsum should precede any other efforts toward reclamation. 

Trees and vines already planted may be temporarily protected from 
the worst effects of the black alkali by surrounding the trunks with 
gypsum or with earth abundantly mixed with it. Seeds may be simi- 
larly protected in sowing, and young plants in planting. 

Another method for diminishing the amount of alkali in the soil is 
the cropping with plants that take up considerable amounts of salts. 
In taking them into cultivation, it is advisable to remove entirely 
from the land the salt growth that may naturally cover it, notably 
the greasewood (Sarcobatus), with its heavy percentage of alkaline 
ash (12 per cent). Crop plants adapted to the same object are men- 
tioned farther on. 


This is a question naturally asked when considering the nature and 
expense of the operation involved, especially when the last resort — 
underdraining and leaching — has to be adopted. 

Those familiar with the alkali regions are aware how often the 
occurrence of alkali spots interrupts the continuity of fields and 
orchards, of which they form only a small part, but enough to mar 
their aspect and cultivation. Their increase and expansion under 
irrigation frequently renders their reclamation the only alternative 
of absolute abandonment of the investments and improvements 
made, and from that point of view alone it is of no slight practical 
importance. Moreover, the occurrence of vast continuous stretches 
of alkali lands within the otherwise most eligibly situated portions of 
the irrigation region forms a strong incentive toward their utilization. 

There is, however, a strong intrinsic reason pointing in the same di- 
rection, namely, the almost invariably high and lasting productiveness 

Alkali Lands in San Joaquin Valley, California. 


of these lands when once rendered available to agriculture. This 
is foreshadowed by the usually very heavy and luxuriant growth of 
native plants around the margins and between alkali spots (see 
PI. II); that is, wherever the amount of injurious salts present is so 
small as not to interfere with the utilization of the abundant store of 
plant food which, under the peculiar conditions of soil formation in 
arid climates, remains in the land instead of being washed into the 
ocean. Extended comparative investigations of soil composition, as 
well as the experience of thousands of years in the oldest settled 
countries of the world, demonstrate this fact and show that so far 
from being in need of fertilization, alkali lands possess extraordinary 
productive capacity whenever freed from the injurious influence of . 
the excess of useless salts left in the soil in consequence of deficient 

It does not, of course, follow that alkali lands are good lands for 
farmers of limited means to settle upon. On the contrary, like most 
other business enterprises, they require a certain amount of capital 
and lapse of time to render them productive. They are not therefore 
a proper investment for farmers or settlers of small means, dependent 
on annual crops for their livelihood and unable to bring to bear upon 
these soils the proper means for their reclamation, unless, indeed, 
local conditions should enable them to use successfully some of the 
crops specially adapted to alkali lands. 


As has already been stated, the search for generally available crops 
that will thrive in strong, unreclaimed alkali land has not thus far 
been very successful. Of the native vegetation found on it within 
the United States, none is thus far known that would be available to 
any considerable extent for stock feeding. Cattle will nibble alkali 
grass {DisticUis vnaritima), but will soon leave it for any dry feed 
that is within reach. "When they are forced to eat such plants, loose- 
ness of the bowels and other disorders usually result, which in such 
ranges is, however, often counteracted to some extent by an aromatic 
antidote, such as the gray sagebrush, that, while not thriving in alkali 
lands, is fairly tolerant of the salts. 

Late experiences in California seem to indicate that in at least the 
more southerly portion of the arid region the unpalatable native 
plants may be generally replaced, even on the ranges, by one or 
more species of the Australian saltbushes (Atriplex spp.) long ago 
recommended by Baron von Mueller, of Melbourne, of which at least 
one (A. semibaccatum) has proved eminently adapted to the climate 
and soil of California and is readily eaten by all kinds of stock. The 
facility with which it is propagated, its quick development, and the 
large amount of feed yielded on a given area, even in the strongest 
of alkali lands thus far tried, seem to commend it specially to the 


farmer's consideration wherever the climate will permit of its use. 1 
Its resistance to severe cold weather has not yet been tested. It is 
probable that other species, now also under trial, will equally justify 
the recommendation given them by the eminent botanist who first 
brought them into public notice as promising forage plants. It is 
to be noted that since the saltbushes take up nearly one-fifth of their 
dry weight of ash ingredients, 2 largely common salt, the complete 
removal from the land of a 5-ton crop of saltbush hay will take away 
nearly a ton of the alkali salts per acre. This will in the course 
of some years be quite sufficient to reduce materially the saline 
contents, of the land, and render possible the culture of ordinary 

As regards the familiar culture plants, both the natural growth of 
alkali lands and experimental tests seem to show that the entire 
leguminous family (peas, beans, clovers, etc.) are among the more 
sensitive and least available wherever black alkali exists, while fairly 
tolerant of the white (neutral) salts. Apparently a very little sal- 
soda suffices to destroy the tubercle-forming organisms that are so 
important a medium of nitrogen nutrition in these plants. Alfalfa, 
with its hard, stout, and long taproot, seems to resist best of all these 
plants. As a general thing, taprooted plants, when once established, 
resist best, for the obvious reason that their main mass of feeding 
roots reaches below the danger level. Another favoring condition, 
already alluded to, is heavy foliage and consequent shading of the 
ground; alfalfa happens to combine both of these advantages. 

Several of the hardiest of the native " alkali weeds " belong to the 
sunflower family, and the common wild sunflowers (Helianthus cali- 
fornicus and H. annuus) are common on lands pretty strongly alka- 
line. Correspondingly, the "Jerusalem artichoke," itself a sunflower, 
is among the available crops on moderately strong alkali soils; and so, 
doubtless, are other members of the same relationship not yet tested, 
such as the true artichoke, salsify, chicory, etc. 

The common beet (including the mangel-wurzel) is known to suc- 
ceed well on saline seashore lands, and it maintains its reputation on 
alkali lands also. Being specially tolerant of common salt, it may be 
grown where other crops fail on this account, but the roots so grown 
are strongly charged with salt, and have, as is well known, been used 
for the purpose of removing excess of the same from marsh lands. 

It is quite otherwise with Glauber salt (sodium sulphate) ; and as 
this is usually predominant in alkali lands, either before or after the 

1 See Bulletin No. 105 of the California Experiment Station. 

'Analyses made at the California station show 20.84 per cent of ash in the dry 
matter of Australian saltbush, 19.37 per cent in the air-dry material. (See Cali- 
fornia Sta. Bui. 105; E. S. R., vol. 6, p. 718.) Recent analyses of Russian thistle 
have been reported showing over 20 per cent of ash in dry matter. (See Min- 
nesota Sta. Bui. 34; Iowa Sta. Bui. 26; E. S. R., vol. 6, pp. 552, 553.) 


gypsum treatment, this fact is of great importance, for it permits of 
the successful growing of the sugar beet, as has been abundantly 
proved at the Chino ranch in southern California, where land con- 
taining as much as one-fourth of 1 per cent of salts, mostly this 
compound, has yielded roots of very high grade both as to sugar 
percentage and purity. 

Asparagus is another crop which bears considerable amounts of 
common salt as well as of Glauber salt, but not of salsoda, which must 
first be transformed by the use of gypsum. 

The superficial rooting and fine fibrous roots of the true grasses 
render them, as a whole, rather sensitive to alkali salts; yet there are 
a number of the perennial kinds whose thick roots and deeper rooting 
render them measurably resistant. Aside from the alkali grass proper 
(Distichlis), the so-called rye grass of the Northwest (Elymus conden- 
satus) is probably the most resistant species among the wild grasses. 
Its southern form, with several others not positively identified, occupy 
largely the milder alkali lands of southern California, such as the low 
lands near Chino, already referred to as producing choice sugar beets. 

While maize is rather sensitive, and fails on even slightly alkaline 
lands, Egyptian corn and other sorghums, rooting somewhat deeper, 
succeed on mild alkali soils of the white class. The same appears 
to be true of some of the stout- rooted millets, such as barnyard grass 
(Panicum crus-galli), of which the variety muticum (?) is reported to 
succeed well in neutral alkali land. 

Of the important group of legumes (peas, beans, vetches, clovers, 
etc.), alfalfa appears thus far to be the most available, on account of 
its hardy, long, and deep-feeding taproots. Very few plants belong- 
ing to this family are naturally found on alkali lands, and attempts 
to grow them, even where only Glauber salt is present, have been but 
very moderately successful. The salts seem to retard or even prevent 
the formation of the tubercles useful for nitrogen absorption. 

Of trees suitable for alkali lands, two native ones call for mention. 
One is the California white oak (Quercus lobata), which forms a dense 
forest of large trees on the delta lands of the Kaweah River in Cali- 
fornia, and is found scatteringly all over the San Joaquin Valley of 
California. Unfortunately, this tree does not supply timber valuable 
for aught but firewood or fence posts, being quite brittle. The native 
cottonwoods, while somewhat retarded and dwarfed in their growth 
in strong alkali, are quite tolerant of the white salts, especially of 
Glauber salt. 

Of other trees, the oriental plane or sycamore and the black locust 
have proved the most resistant in the alkali lands of the San Joaquin 
Valley. Of the eucalyptus, the narrow-leafed Eucalyptus amygda- 
lina seems to be least sensitive, and in some cases has grown as rap- 
idly as anywhere. Next to these, the elms have done fairly well, as 
has also the large-leafed maple {Acer grandidentatum). The English 


oak (Quercus pedunculata) becomes stunted, as does the tulip tree 
(Liriodendron), the linden, and most other Eastern species of trees. 

Of orchard trees, strangely enough, the shallow-rooted almond 
seems to resist best; peach is more sensitive; apricot does fairly; 
apples are very sensitive; pears somewhat less so; the olive resists 
very well; the fig is rather sensitive; the English Avalnut resents even 
a slight taint of black salts; the citrus fruits, while not very sen- 
sitive, are much retarded in their growth by any considerable amount 
of alkali in the soil. 

The grapevine ( Vitis vinifera) is quite tolerant of white or neu- 
tral alkali salts, and will resist even a moderate amount of the 
black so long as no hardpan is allowed to form. Vines rapidly 
succumb, however, when by excessive irrigation the bottom water is 
allowed to rise, killing the ends of the roots, shallowing the soil at 
their disposal and increasing the ascent of the alkali salts. In such 
cases sometimes the formation of hardpan is followed by that of a 
concentrated alkaline solution above it strong enough to corrode the 
roots themselves, and not only killing the vines, but rendering the 
land unfit for any agricultural use whatsoever. The SAvamping of 
alkali lands, whether of the white or black kind, is fatal not only to 
their present productiveness, but, on account of the strong chemical 
action thus induced, greatly jeopardizes their future usefulness. Many 
costly investments in orchards and vineyards have thus been ren- 
dered unproductive, or have even become a total loss. 

While it is certainly true that when rightly treated alkali lands can 
be rendered profusely and lastingly productive, yet close attention 
and constant vigilance are needed so long as the salts remain in the 
soil; and no one not determined to give such land such full attention 
should undertake to cultivate it. 


By Milton Whitney, 
Chief of the Division of Agricultural Soils, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 


Water is the most abundant substance found in living crops. Not 
only does it form by far the largest proportion of all fresh vegetable 
substance, but, on account of loss through evaporation from the leaves 
of growing plants and the necessity of replacing this loss, thirty or 
forty times more water is needed during the growing period of a crop 
than is contained in the crop when harvested. Plants require a large 
amount of water for their life and growth, and it is necessary that the 
supply should be abundant at all times. If the evaporation from the 
plant greatly exceeds the amount taken in through the roots, the 
leaves wilt and the plant suffers. 1 

Therefore one of the most important functions of the soil in its 
relation to crop production is the maintenance of a proper supply of 
water. Rain falls, on an average, in the humid portion of the United 
States for two or three days in succession, and is then followed by 
an interval of eight or ten days of fair weather. As plants are fixed 
in their relative positions in the earth, the soil, in order to supply 
them with water during the fair-weather period, has to offer such a 
resistance to the percolation of the rain that an adequate supply shall 
be held back. On account of this resistance, due to the friction which 
the rain encounters in the minute spaces between the soil grains 
through which it has to pass, the movement is very slow and only 
part of the water sinks below the reach of plants before the next 
rainfall occurs. 

The resistance which soils, owing to their difference in texture, 
offer to the percolation of the rain varies greatly. Light, sandy soils 
maintain comparatively little moisture, because the spaces between 
the grains are comparatively large and there is relatively but little 
resistance to the flow of water, so that the rainfall moves down quite 
rapidly until there is only 5 or 10 per cent of moisture present in the 
soil. Strong clay soils, on the other hand, have very minute spaces 
for the water to move through, and consequently offer a very great 

1 This subject was treated quite fully in an article by Galloway and Woods on 
"Water as a factor in the growth of plants," in the Yearbook for 1894. 



resistance to the percolation of the rain. These soils maintain, as a 
rule, from 15 to 20 per cent of their weight of water. 

Different plants grow best with different amounts of water. For 
instance, the pasture grasses thrive on a soil which is too moist for 
Indian corn, or even for the largest and surest yield of wheat. Some 
classes of tobacco thrive well on soils which are very retentive of mois- 
ture, while other classes can only be grown with success on drier soils. 
We are not concerned in this article with the amount of moisture 
which different soils maintain or with the amount of moisture required 
by different kinds of plants. We must recognize, however, that it is 
not possible nor desirable to maintain the same amount of water in 
all soils, for if this were done there would not be the opportunity for 
diversity in agriculture which we have under existing conditions. 

While water is maintained for a time in the soil, as already explained, 
it is liable to be lost to the growing crop by evaporation from the sur- 
face of the ground or by being used up by weeds. The end sought 
in plowing and cultivation is to control the water supply by removing 
weeds and leaving the surface of the soil covered with a loose, dry 
mulch to retard evaporation. Many of our crops require no subse- 
quent cultivation after they are put into the ground. Wheat, oats, 
rye, clover, grass, forest trees, and, in general, such crops as cover and 
shade the ground are not, as a rule, cultivated during their period of 
growth. On the other hand, such crops as corn, tobacco, cotton, pota- 
toes, and fruit trees require cultivation during their early growing 
period, although even with these crops cultivation ceases after they 
have attained considerable size, and is rarely practiced during the 
ripening period. 

The principal object of plowing is to loosen up the soil, for four 
purposes: (1) To enable the soil to absorb the rainfall more quickly 
and more freely than it would in its undisturbed condition; (2) to 
maintain more of the rainfall near the roots of plants; (3) to admit 
fresh air to the roots of plants; (4) to enable the roots of the young 
or quickly growing plants to penetrate the soil more easily. 

The principal objects of subsequent cultivation, whether with plow, 
cultivator, cotton sweep, harrow, hoe, or rake, are (1) to prevent loss 
of water by weeds and grass, which use up great quantities; (2) to 
keep the surface covered with a loose, dry mulch in order to prevent, 
so far as possible, loss of water by evaporation. Water is thus con- 
served for the use of crops, and the supply is more abundant and 
more uniform than it would have been without the cultivation. 

A soil with a compact surface quickly dries out, and the water 
supply fluctuates rapidly and- excessively, to the detriment of most 
crops during their growing period. Weeds and grass are generally 
to be excluded from the crop because they transpire great quantities 
of water which would otherwise have been at the disposal of the crop. 
Weeds are, however, occasionally of advantage to the crop, especially 
during the ripening period, because they help to dry out the soil and 
thus hasten the maturity of the crop. 


Some of our crops, therefore, do not require cultivation, because 
they shade the ground and prevent evaporation and prevent grass 
and weeds from springing up and diminishing their supply of water, 
or because they are deeply rooted and can bring water up from con- 
siderable depths. Other crops can not protect their water supply 
in this way, and it must be artificially controlled by methods of 

In tropical countries where rain falls nearly every day, giving an 
abundant and uniform supply of moisture in the soil, crops require 
little or no cultivation, and only the larger weeds need be removed 
from the field. The rainfall is sufficient, both in amount and distri- 
bution, for the support of the weeds and an average crop. 


The common plow is essentially a wedge-shaped instrument, which 
is forced through the soil to loosen it. The topsoil is forced aside, 
thrown up, and usually turned over. This action loosens the soil by 
separating the soil grains. The loose soil occupies more space than the 
compact soil did, and a cubic foot of the former, therefore, contains 
more space for water to enter. Each separate space, however, is also 
larger and has less capillary action and a smaller power of drawing 
water to the surface. If the soil, by reason of its fine texture or wet 
condition, is lumpy after the plowing, the spaces in the soil will be of 
very uneven size, and it frequently happens that the surface of the 
ground is not left in a suitable condition to draw water up from below. 
If small seeds are sown on such a rough surface, they are liable to 
suffer for lack of moisture. It is customary, therefore, and very advis- 
able in such cases, to harrow and roll the seed bed until all the larger 
lumps are broken down and the surface is left smooth and even, in 
order to insure a supply of moisture to the seed during the germinating 
period. However, soil which has thus been rolled will lose more water 
by evaporation than soil which has been simply harrowed. The evapo- 
ration of this moisture is an incident which it is not always possible 
or desirable to prevent. "With some crops the surface may be har- 
rowed after the seed has germinated. This is desirable when it can be 
done without injury to the crop, as it tends to retard evaporation. 

There is one serious defect in the principle of the common plow 
which, upon some soils and with certain kinds of plowing, is liable to 
have very serious effects. If a field is plowed for many successive 
years to a depth of 6 or 8 inches the tendency each time is to com- 
pact the subsoil immediately below the plow, thus rendering it more 
impervious to water; that is, the plow in being dragged along plasters 
the subsoil just as a mason with his trowel would smooth out a layer 
of cement to make it as close and impervious to water as possible. 
This is undoubtedly an advantage to some soils, but, on the other 
hand, it is very injurious to many. 

The injurious effect of this compact layer formed by the plowing is 
twofold. It makes it more difficult for the rainfall to be absorbed as 


rapidly as it falls, and increases the danger of loss of water and injury 
to the soil by surface washing. Soils plowed at a depth of 3 or 4 
inches, which is quite common in many parts of the country, would 
have a thin layer of loose material on the surface, with a compact 
subsoil below, into which water would descend rather slowly. With 
a rapid and excessive fall of rain, the light, loose topsoil is liable to 
be washed away by the excess of water, which can not descend into 
the subsoil as rapidly as it falls. This washing of the surface and 
erosion of fields into gullies occasion the abandonment of thousands 
of acres of land. The field will not wash so badly if it is not plowed, 
and, on the other hand, it will hardly wash at all if the cultivation is 
deeper and the subsoil left in a loose and absorbent condition. The 
deeper the cultivation, the greater the proportion of rainfall stored 
away and the less danger of the erosion of the surface soil and the 
less serious the defect of our common method of plowing. While 
there is less danger from washing, however, with deep cultivation, 
there is still a tendency toward the formation of a hardpan at what- 
ever depth the land is plowed. No simple modification of the ordi- 
nary plow or of the subsoil plow will overcome this defect. It will 
require a change in the very principle of the implement. The plow 
should not cut through the soil, but break it apart so as neither to 
compact nor puddle it by being dragged along over the subsoil. 

While all other farm implements and machinery have been im- 
proved, especially within the last fifty years, so that we are able 
now to harvest more crops than ever before and to handle our 
crops to better advantage, our common plow has not been essen- 
tially improved or modified in any important particular, except as 
to mechanical construction, since the days of the early Greeks and 
Romans. It would seem only necessary to call attention to this, the 
fundamental and simplest principle of agriculture, to have some new 
method devised of stirring the soil without compacting the subsoil. 

The highest art of cultivation which has ever been practiced is 
that of trenching, so extensively employed in England and so ear- 
nestly advocated by the early English writers on agriculture. With a 
large class of lands there is no implement so effective for loosening 
and improving the soil conditions as the spade. The spade does not 
cut the soil from the subsoil as the plow does, but breaks it off, and 
there is little or no disturbance and no compacting whatever below 
that point. Everyone is familiar with the difference in the tilth of 
a garden which has been thoroughly spaded and of a field plowed 
in the ordinary way. This old method of trenching with a spade 
can not, of course, be used in the extensive systems of cultivation 
practiced in this country, and it is now used in England much less 
than it was years ago, but if this principle could be worked into a 
practical method of cultivation it would be of great benefit to agri- 



At the present time little is known definitely about the practical 
value of subsoiling. In certain localities it has or has not been 
found to be beneficial to crops. There is a wide difference of opinion 
upon this fundamental point. Fifteen or twenty years ago it was 
very generally advocated throughout the East by all of the .agricul- 
tural journals. It was tried in a great variety of soils and under 
many conditions, and there is no doubt that in perhaps a majority 
of cases it showed no beneficial effects. This might have been 
expected, for no one method of cultivation can be equally valuable 
under the various conditions of soils, climate, and crops such as 
prevail over such a great extent of country. At present the subject 
is being prominently agitated in some of the Western States, particu- 
larly in the semiarid regions, and very favorable results are being 
reported through the local agricultural papers. 

A few general principles only may be laid down for guidance in 
this matter. Subsoiling is rarely necessary in light, porous, sandy 
soils or in a climate where there are frequent light showers. It is not 
beneficial in heavy, wet soils, unless they are previously thoroughly 
underdrained. ' It is likely to be injurious if in the operation much 
of the subsoil is brought to the surface and incorporated in the sur- 
face soil, especially if the subsoil itself is in an unhealthy condition 
as regards drainage and contains poisonous matters which would be 
deleterious to plant growth. Poisonous matters frequently occur in 
subsoils as a result of improper aeration and the growth of certain 
minute organisms. 

Subsoiling when properly done consists merely of breaking up the 
subsoil without bringing it to the surface or in any way incorporating 
it with the upper layer of the soil. In this respect it differs from 
deep plowing. The ideal subsoil plow consists merely of a tongue 
fashioned much like a common pick and hardly larger in its dimen- 
sions — slightly smaller at the point than in the rear, but as small in 
all its parts as is consistent with perfect rigidity and with the natui-e 
of the soil through which it is to be drawn. This usually follows an 
ordinary plow. It should be run at as great a depth as possible, the 
endeavor being to get it at least 16 or 18 inches below the surface. It 
is often advisable by this means to break up a hardpan formed, per- 
haps, by long-continued plowing at a uniform depth or existing as a 
natural formation below the surface. 

Subsoiling is likely to be beneficial, under the prevailing climatic 
conditions east of the Mississippi River, in any soils of medium or of 
heavy texture, provided the land has fairly good drainage. In the 
semiarid region of the West it is likely to be very beneficial upon 
many classes of soils, especially where the rainfall occurs in heavy 
and infrequent showers and where it is necessary to increase the 
capacity of the soils to absorb water readily and rapidly. 


Subsoiling, to be efficient, should be done a sufficient length of time 
before the crops are planted to insure to the soil a thorough soaking 
with rain ; otherwise it may injure rather than improve the soil con- 
ditions for the first year. Subsoiling by stirring the land to an 
unusual depth favors the drying out of the soil, so that if it is not 
supplemented by a soaking rain before the seed is put in, the ground 
is drier than if the work had not been done. This fact has been 
shown to a notable extent in central and western Kansas during the 
present season and has been commented upon in Bulletins USTos. 1, 2, 
and 3 of this division. 

There are few places in the West where this practice has been carried 
on long enough and under conditions necessary for beneficial effect. 
One such place, however, is at Geneva, Nebr. , where subsoiling has 
been intelligently carried on for a number of years under nursery 
stock. The records of soil moisture which have been made at that 
place by this division through the present season show that on the 
average, through the months of June, July, and August, there was 10 
per cent of moisture in the soil to a depth of 12 inches where ordinary 
methods of cultivation had been used, and 15 per cent where the land 
had been previously subsoiled. No crops were growing on the soils 
from which the records were kept in either case. This difference of 
5 per cent in the amount of water, or 50 per cent increase over that 
in the uncultivated soil, is a very large amount and would doubtless 
have a very important effect upon the crop yield. This is confirmed 
by the actual yields on the two soils, as reported by Younger & Co., 
on whose farm the observations were made. 

Further work will be done along these lines by this division, to 
establish these general principles. In the meantime great care and 
judgment should be exercised in deciding upon whether it is advisable 
to adopt this practice in every case 


Cultivation as here used means the actual stirring of the surface 
after the crop is planted, either with a plow, cotton sweep, cultivator, 
harrow, hoe, or other implement. The object of cultivation is two- 
fold — to destroy weeds and thus prevent the great drain which they 
make upon the soil moisture, and to loosen and pulverize the surface, 
leaving it as a fine mulch, the object of which is to prevent evapora- 
tion. The first of these objects needs no further comment here. As 
regards the second object of cultivation, the result to be attained is 
to have the surface covered with a fine, dry mulch before the dry spell 
sets in, so as to conserve the water in the soil during dry periods. 

Cultivation is usually most effective in the early stages of the 
growth of crops, especially during the growth of the vegetative parts 
of the plant. It is usual to stir the surface after each rain. If another 
rain follows within a short time, this cultivation may do little or no 
good; but if a dry season follows, the cultivation may save the crop 
by its having diminished the evaporation. While cultivation does 


not add water to the soil, as some claim, it prevents excessive loss, and 
thns maintains more water in the soil, which means about the same 
thing. * 

The kind of treatment adapted to the cultivation of different soils 
depends upon local conditions, climate, and the kind of crop. The 
object sought is the same in all cases, but the means of attaining it 
must be adapted to the local circumstances. As a rule, cultivation 
should be shallow, for two reasons, namely, to avoid disturbing the 
roots of the growing plants, and to avoid losing any more of the soil 
moisture than possible. A single cultivation after each rain is not 
necessarily enough, especially if a dry season is expected. The sur- 
face must be kept loose and dry, and this may require more than one 
cultivation, even if there has been no subsequent rain. 

Few of our agricultural crops require cultivation after they have 
attained their vegetative growth, and a crop is frequently injured 
when cultivation is continued too long, because the soil is thus kept 
too wet, and the plants are not inclined to ripen as early as they 
should or to mature as large a yield of fruit or grain. Most of our 
grain crops will mature more seed if the ground is moderately dry 
during their ripening period. 


A soil containing too much water during the whole or a considerable 
part of the season should be underdrained to draw off the excessive 
amount of moisture. Most of our agricultural crops do better in a 
soil containing from 30 to 60 per cent of the amount of water which 
the soil would contain if saturated. With less water, crops suffer; 
with more, they suffer from lack of air around their roots. Wheat 
may be grown ver^ successfully, and will attain a perfectly normal 
development in water culture with its roots entirely immersed in a 
nutritive solution, provided the water is supplied with air at frequent 
intervals, but it will not grow in a stagnant, saturated soil, not because 
there is too much water, but because there is too little air. A soil, 
therefore, which contains too much water contains too little air, and 
part of the water should be drawn off through ditches or tile drains. 

Centuries ago the Romans used to overcome this trouble by plant- 
ing the crop on very high ridges or beds, often 8 or 10 feet high and 
fully as wide. ' In this way alleys were provided at frequent intervals 
to carry off the surface water, and the greatest extent of surface was 
presented for the drying out of the soil, while the roots were kept at 
a considerable distance from the saturated subsoil. Storer states 
that some of these ridges are still to be found in localities in Europe. 
They are used to-day in a modified form in the cultivation of the sea- 
island cotton off the coast of South Carolina, but are being gradually 
given up as the practice of underdrainage is introduced, which is 
cheaper in the end and more effective. 

Tile drainage is usually most effective in stiff clay soils and in low 
bottom lands, but it is occasionally beneficial in medium grades of 
2 A 95 5 


loam or even in light sandy soils. It is practiced to a considerable 
extent in the light sandy soil of the truck area of the Atlantic Sea- 
board, where the question of a few days in the time of ripening of the 
crop is an important factor. 


If the climatic conditions are such that it is impossible, with the 
most improved methods of plowing, subsoiling, and subsequent culti- 
vation, to maintain a sufficient amount of moisture in the soil for the 
use of crops, it is then necessary to resort to irrigation or the artifi- 
cial application of water to the soil. It is not the purpose here to 
enter into a discussion of the best methods of irrigation, but simply 
to discuss briefly the general principles of irrigation as practiced in 
maintaining proper conditions in the soil. 

Our ideas of irrigation should not be confined to the arid regions. 
To be sure, irrigation is much more important there than elsewhere, 
for without artificial application of water crops could not be produced 
in many localities. In the humid portion of the United States, even 
in localities in Florida where they have from 60 to 70 inches of annual 
rainfall, irrigation is used successfully as a means of insuring the 
crop against drought due to the uneven distribution of the rainfall. 
It has been pointed out in several publications of this division that 
where the supply of water in different soils reaches a certain point, 
which differs according to the texture of the soil, crops suffer for lack 
of it. In the truck soils of the Atlantic Coast this minimum is ap- 
proximately 4 per cent, while in the heavy limestone grass lands of 
Kentucky the pasture begins to dry up when the soils contain as much 
as 15 per cent of water. 

Under our present modes of cultivation the farmer can do little for 
the crop during the time of actual drought. Ordinary cultivation is of 
comparatively little benefit during a prolonged dry season. Its most 
effective work is before the dry spell sets in. No matter what the 
value of the crop, and no matter how much this value is concentrated 
on small areas of land, there is practically but little to be done to 
save the crop. Irrigation should be used as an insurance against the 
loss of crops. A small pond fed by a windmill would often save a 
garden or a small area of a valuable crop from destruction or great 
injury during a dry season. A small portable farm engine, which 
would be available at other times for cutting feed, thrashing grain, 
and other farm purposes, could be used to drive an irrigating pump 
during the dry seasons. This would be particularly valuable for 
tobacco, truck, and other crops which are grown under a very inten- 
sive system of cultivation. 

The object of all cultivation, in its broadest aspect, is to maintain, 
under existing climatic conditions, a uniform and adequate supply of 
water and air in soils adapted to different classes of plants. This is 
the object alike of plowing, subsoiling, cultivation, underdrainage, 
and irrigation ; they are all processes to be used in maintaining 
suitable moisture conditions for the growth of crops. 


By Harry Snyder, B. Sc, 
Professor of agricultural chemistry in the College of Agriculture of the University 

of Minnesota. 

The term humus is applied to a large class of compounds derived 
from the decay of former animal and plant life. The animal and 
vegetable materials (organic matter) undergo decomposition in the 
soil, the final result of which is the disappearance of these sub- 
stances, leaving only a few gases and a small amount of mineral 
matter. When the organic matter is in its intermediate stages of 
decomposition, and mixed with the soil, it is known as humus. 

Opinion as to the fertilizing value of humus has swung, pendulum 
like, from one extreme to another. The alchemists taught that the 
spirits left the decaying animal and vegetable matters and entered 
plants. By many of the earlier chemists, humus was considered as 
supplying the larger part of the materials necessary for the develop- 
ment of the crop, but when the combined labors of De Saussure, Bous- 
singault, Dumas, and Liebig demonstrated that the air supplied 
plants most of their food, particularly that part which was supposed 
to come from humus, scientists, as a rule, assigned a low value to 

From the very earliest times, however, farmers have assigned a very 
high value to humus as a factor of soil fertility, and this belief was 
strengthened by the observed facts that soils rich in humus were, as a 
rule, highly productive, and that such materials as animal excrement 
or barnyard manure, which supplied the soil with an abundance of 
humus, possessed a marked fertilizing power. Although many of the 
old theories which were supposed to account for the value of humus 
are no longer tenable, recent experiments have shown that there are 
sound scientific reasons for ascribing to humus a high value as a 
factor of soil fertility, and have demonstrated that "farmers are 
wholly right in attaching great importance to the preservation of 
humus in their soils." 

As the following pages will show, humus performs a number of dif- 
ferent functions in the soil which are of the highest importance in crop 
production. It influences the temperature, tilth, permeability, ab- 
sorptive power, Aveight, and color of soils, and directly or indirectly 
controls to a high degree their supply of water, nitrogen, phosphoric 

acid, and potash. 



A virgin soil or one recently cleared may show a high state of 
productiveness for a number of years after it is brought under 
cultivation. Gradually, however, a decline in fertility is observed, 
which is slight at first, but more marked after a lapse of fifteen or 
twenty years. 

Experiments have shown that the decline in fertility is not entirely 
a result of the removal from the soil of the essential fertilizing ele- 
ments — nitrogen, phosphoric acid, potash, or lime — but is due in 
many cases to getting the land out of condition through a loss of 
humus. Experiments conducted by the Minnesota Agricultural 
Experiment Station on different types of soils worn by continuous 
grain cropping have shown that when a fertilizer was used contain- 
ing nitrogen, phosphoric acid, potash, or lime, or when any one of 
these materials was applied alone, there was "in no case an in- 
crease of over 3 bushels per acre of wheat and 2 of flax. * * * 
With soils that have been cropped for twenty years, the largest 
increase was 4 bushels per acre." The difference between the grain- 
producing power of new soils and of worn soils of the same original 
character was about 15 bushels per acre. These results, as well as 
many others which could be quoted, make it clear that the decline 
in fertility of the soils was not entirely due to a loss of the essential 
elements of fertility, and that we must seek the cause elsewhere. 

The most important difference, physical or chemical, between the 
composition of old, worn soils and new soils of the same character is 
in the amount of humus which is present. 

That the loss of humus is an important factor in the decline of fer- 
tility is also indicated by the fact that with methods of farming in 
which grasses form an important part in the rotation, especially those 
that leave a large residue of roots and culms, the decline in productive 
power is much slower than when crops like wheat, cotton, or potatoes, 
which leave little residue on the soil, are grown continuously. Under 
grass and similar crops the soil humus increases from year to year, 
while the continuous culture of grain, cotton, or potatoes gradually 
reduces the original stock of humus. Grass and grain crops in rota- 
tion result in alternately increasing and decreasing the humus of the 
soil and keep the land in a higher state of productiveness, although 
more nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash is removed from the soil 
.than when grain, cotton, or corn is raised continuously. In no case, 
however, do those systems of farming which return humus-forming 
materials to the soil reduce the land to so low a state of productive- 
ness asdo those systems in which there is a continual loss of humus 
from the soil (seep. 141). 

Agriculturally considered, the two most important points regard- 
ing the composition of humus are (1) the presence of nitrogen as a 


constant constituent, and (2) the chemical union of the humus with 
potash, lime, and phosphoric acid, forming humates. 


Humus, as ordinarily obtained from the soil, contains from 3 to 12 
per cent of nitrogen. According to Professor Hilgard, the soils from 
arid regions are poor in humus, containing from 1 to 2 per cent, but 
this humus is correspondingly rich in nitrogen, in many cases con- 
taining 14 per cent. In many of the prairie regions the soil contains 
about 5 per cent of humus, and this humus contains about 10 per cent 
of nitrogen. Since, therefore, nitrogen is one of the prominent constit- 
uents of humus, it is easily understood how a loss of humus has also 
resulted in a loss of nitrogen. This decline in the nitrogen content 
of the soil is one of the most serious results of the loss of humus 
from the soil. A virgin soil containing 4 per cent of true humus and 
0.35 per cent of nitrogen will after twenty years of grain cropping 
show about 2.5 per cent of humus and 0.2 per cent of nitrogen. 

In the twenty years, therefore, there has been a loss of 1.5 per cent 
of humus, equivalent to about 3,500 pounds per acre, and 0.15 to 0.2 
per cent of nitrogen, which is equivalent to 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of 
nitrogen per acre. Since 50 pounds per year of nitrogen is a large 
quantity for any ordinary grain crop to remove, the 20 crops have at 
the most removed 900 pounds of nitrogen. At least 2,500 pounds 
have, therefore, been lost by the decomposition of the humus, the 
nitrogen being lost either in the free state or in the drainage waters. 
For every pound of nitrogen removed in the crops during the twenty 
years of cultivation there has been an additional loss of 3 or 4 pounds 
of nitrogen from the soil by the decomposition of the humus. 

We know that most if not all of the changes that organic matter 
undergoes are the result of the action of microscopic organisms. Such 
changes as nitrification, or the transformation of organic nitrogen into 
nitrates and its opposite denitrification, or the reduction of nitrates to 
gaseous nitrogen, besides many others which might be mentioned, are 
illustrations of the work of these minute organisms. Humus fur- 
nishes a medium peculiarly adapted to the activity of these organisms. 
The decomposition of humus, by which it loses its nitrogen, is due 
chiefly to the combined action of the organisms of nitrification and 
denitrification. The nitrifying organism feeds upon the humus, break- 
ing down its organic nitrogenous constituents and producing nitrates 
which may be washed out in the drainage, and the denitrifying organ- 
ism completes the work by feeding upon the nitrates, producing free 
nitrogen gas, which escapes into the air. 

Nitrification is one of the most important natural provisions for 
rendering the inert fertility of the soil available to plants, and a cer- 
tain amount of it is necessary to plant growth, but it can be readily 
seen that under injudicious management or cultivation of the soil 


it may work a positive injury by causing unnecessary waste of the 
nitrogen, or, in case of rich soils, it may supply the growing crop 
with too much nitrate and thus produce a rank growth of straw and 

Summer fallowing. — Bare summer fallowing is widely practiced, 
and has been very beneficial to the succeeding crop by increasing the 
available nitrogen of the soil, but frequently more nitrogen is rendered 
available than is necessary for the following crop, and whatever the 
crop is unable to utilize is lost by leaching or else escapes into the air. 
The available nitrogen is thus increased, while the total nitrogen is 
greatly decreased. 

Experiments at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station 
indicated that one year of fallowing caused a gain of 0.0022 per cent 
available nitrogen and a loss of 0.0114 per cent of total nitrogen in a 
soil containing originally 0.1536 per cent of total nitrogen and 0.0002 
per cent of available nitrogen. For every pound of nitrogen rendered 
available by the fallow treatment there was a loss of over 5 pounds 
of nitrogen from the soil. Bare summer fallowing is, therefore, only 
temporarily beneficial at the expense of the total humus and nitrogen 
of the soil. "When a soil is poor in humus and nitrogen the loss of 
nitrogen is much smaller, but even then it is doubtful whether bare 
summer fallowing is a wise practice. In no case should summer fal- 
lowing be practiced on a new soil. 

Fall plowing keeps the humus and nitrogen of the soil in better 
condition than late spring plowing. Nitrification goes on in the soil 
until quite late in the fall, and in the South the proeess goes on the 
entire year. The change is most rapid near the surface, where there 
is plenty of oxygen from the air. In early fall plowing the available 
nitrogen formed from the humus is near the surface, where it does 
the sprouting seeds and the young crops the most good. With late 
spring plowing this available nitrogen is plowed under, and inert 
organic nitrogen is brought to the surface. 

In old soils the process of nitrification does not go on rapidly 
enough to furnish available nitrogen to the crop. In a new soil the 
process of nitrification is liable to go on too rapidly. Deep plowing 
and thorough cultivation aid in nitrification. Hence the longer the 
soil is cultivated, the deeper and more thorough must be its prepara- 
tion. Plowing must be done at the right time, preferably in the fall, 
so as not to interfere with the next year's water supply. 

The application of lime and wood ashes aids in the reduction of 
nitrogen of humus to available forms and prevents the formation 
of sour mold. Good drainage is also necessary to nitrification in the 
soil. In water-logged soils the humus does not decompose normally, 
but peat is produced on account of the absence of oxygen. 

We thus see that nitrification, although sometimes a serious source 
of loss, may be largely controlled by careful management of the soil. 


Burning over of soils. — Another source of loss of huxnus in the 
prairie and forest regions is the frequent burning over of the land. 
Soils covered with pine, in which sand largely predominates, fre- 
quently lose half or three-quarters their total nitrogen when visited 
by forest fires. The sand, being of an open and porous nature, aids 
in the more complete combustion of the humus. In the timbered 
regions of the Northwest the great forest fires of 1894 resulted in the 
average destruction of over 1,500 pounds of humus nitrogen per acre, 
to say nothing of the nitrogen lost in the burning of the timber. 
Analyses of soils, before and after the fire, made by the Minnesota 
Agricultural Experiment Station showed a loss in some cases of 
2,500 pounds per acre of nitrogen, equivalent to a loss of 75 per cent 
of the total amount in the soil. The prairie fires have not been so 
destructive upon the humus as the forest fires, because the burning 
has been confined more to the surface. An average prairie fire, 
however, will remove more nitrogen from the soil than five ordinary 
crops of wheat. 


Besides being a great reservoir of nitrogen, humus is an indirect 
means of supplying the plants with other fertilizing constituents. 
Humus as it occurs in the soil is combined with potash, lime, phos- 
phoric acid, and other compounds which are essential as plant food. 
The decaying animal and vegetable matters form various organic 
acids, which combine with the potash, lime, iron, and alumina, as 
well as with other elements, and form a series of compounds known 
as humates, of which but little is definitely known. 

By some, the potash, lime, and other mineral constituents of the 
humus are regarded as simply associated with the humus and not 
organically combined with it, but there are a number of facts which 
indicate that the union is chemical and not simply mechanical. The 
mineral matter combined with the humus is characteristically rich in 
phosphoric acid and potash, two compounds which are of great value 
agriculturally. The mineral matter combined with the humus from 
different soil types, however, is not always of the same nature, and 
the amount of plant food thus combined with humus has not been 
extensively investigated. In the case of rich prairie soils over 1,500 
pounds of phosphoric acid and 1,000 pounds of potash per acre to the 
depth of 1 foot have been found to be in combination with the humus. 
In the case of soils poor in humus and worn by cropping, the amount 
may be reduced to 100 pounds per acre. The average of analyses of 
the mineral matter of the humus from samples of productive prairie 
soils yielding 25 per cent of humates showed 7.50 per cent of potash 
and 12. 37 per cent of phosphoric acid. In these soils, which were well 
supplied with humus, 1,500 pounds of phosphoric acid per acre out of 
a total of 8,750 was combined with humus, and 1,000 pounds of potash 
out of a total of 12,250 pounds. According to Hilgard, the amount of 


phosphoric acid usually found associated with humus varies from 0.1 
to 0.5 of the total amount in the soil, indicating in many cases the 
amount of this element available to plants. 


The value of these various forms of humates as plant food has 
been the subject of extensive investigations and many of these ex- 
periments indicate that the humates, when acted upon by the proper 
microorganisms, are very valuable forms of plant food. 

At the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station oats and rye 
have been successfully grown when the only forms of mineral food 
were humates of potash, lime, magnesia, iron, and humic phosphate 
and sulphate. Humate material obtained from rich prairie soil was 
mixed with pure sand, which contains practically no plant food, and 
gypsum was added to prevent the formation of sour humus. The 
mixture was watered with leachings from a fertile field, so as to 
introduce the organisms which usually carry on the work of humus 

Oats seeded in the soil thus prepared finally produced fertile seeds, 
the entire plants containing fifty times more potash than was in the 
seeds sown, and over sixty times more phosphoric acid. The only 
source from which the plant could obtain these substances was the 
humates added to the soil. 

In experiments in which the soil leachings were omitted the oat 
plants made only feeble signs of growth, plainly showing that unless 
the potash, phosphoric acid, etc., combined with the humus is set 
free by the action of microorganisms the plant is unable to use them. 

There are a number of facts in field practice which also indicate 
that plants are capable of feeding on humates. The roots of plants, 
particularly those of grains, will always be found clustering around 
any decaying vegetable matter that may happen to be present in the 
soil. When wheat or oats follow a corn crop the roots of the grain 
will be found in many cases to completely incase any decaying pieces 
of cornstalks that are present. The cornstalks are not rich in plant 
food, but they decay in the soil and combine with the soil potash, 
phosphates, etc., forming humates which the grain feeds upon. 

Large piles of sawdust many feet in height and circumference are 
frequently left around sawmills, or the sawdust is used for filling in 
low places. The sawdust is very slow in decomposing, but in time it 
is covered with vegetation which must obtain most if not all of its 
mineral food in the form of humates. 


Inasmuch as both experiments and observations in the field appear 
to strongly indicate that plants have the power of feeding upon 
humates, it becomes important to determine to what extent the 



addition of animal and vegetable matters to the soil is capable of 
affecting the amount of available plant food. 

Experiments conducted at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment 
Station have an important bearing upon this question. To a box 
holding 100 pounds of loam soil 20 pounds of cow manure was added. 
The contents of the box were kept moist and well mixed. At the 
end of twelve months the amount of mineral matter combined with 
the humus was determined, and the amount found compared with that 
originally in the box. Another box containing an equal amount of 
the same soil to which no manure was added was treated in the same 
manner. In the first case the mineral matter originally present in 
the manure was deducted, as well as the amount which was only sol- 
uble in the solutions used in the analysis. The results were as follows: 

Increase of humates in the soil due to applications of manure. 

Total hu- 
mates in 
100 pounds 

of original 


Total at 
the end of 
12 months 

in ma- 
nured box. 

Gain of 
from soil 

Total hu- 
mates at 
the end of 
12 months, 
no manure. 

when no 




Iron -.- 



Phosphoric acid 












As will be seen, the cow manure increased the amount of mineral 
matter combined with the humus to the extent of 15 to 25 per cent 
of the original amount present in the soil. In addition to adding 
new elements of fertility to the soil, it has also resulted in changing 
a part of the potash, magnesia, and phosphoric acid, as well as other 
solid elements, into forms more valuable as plant food. The manure, 
therefore, not only has a direct fertilizing value, but is also useful in 
making the inert plant food of the soil more available. A number of 
facts in field practice also point to the same conclusion. 

It is well known that barnyard manure is among the most lasting 
in effect of any of the fertilizers which can be applied. This is 
undoubtedly due to the power which the manure possesses of uniting 
with the soil potash, phosphoric acid, etc. , to produce humates. 

It has been frequently observed that when potatoes are cultivated 
on new prairie land for three or four years in succession, both the 
yield and the size of the potatoes decrease. When the land is seeded 
to a grass crop, the sod plowed under, and potatoes again planted, the 
yield and size of the potatoes are often nearly the same as when the 
land was new. This result has been attained without the addition of 
any manure to the land except the vegetable matter in the sod which 
has furnished materials for the formation of humates. In the same 

2 A 95 5* 


way, wheat grown continuously on prairie soil will gradually decline 
in yield, but if grass is alternated with the wheat, nearly the original 
yields are restored. 

Besides performing the useful functions just discussed, which are 
essentially chemical in character, humus profoundly modifies the 
physical properties of soils. This influence is most marked in rela- 
tion to the water content and temperature of the soil. 


A soil rich in humus not only absorbs more water, but holds it more 
tenaciously in time of drought than a soil poor in humus. In fact, 
this is one of the most important differences between soils rich in 
humus and those poor in humus. A soil which by long cultivation 
has lost half of its total humus will show a loss of 10 to 25 per cent 
of its water-holding power. These differences are well illustrated in 
the following table, compiled from data obtained in the examination 
of two typical Minnesota soils : 

Water capacity of soils containing different amounts of humus. 




After 10 

hours 1 


to the sun. 


Soil richer in humus (3.75 per cent). 
Soil poorer in humus (2.50 per cent) . 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Per cent. 

Humus is also an important factor, especially in sandy soils, in 
assisting the capillary rise of subsoil water to the roots of crops. In 
a mixture of sand and humus, water will rise to the surface by capil- 
larity much more rapidly than in pure sand. As is well known, soils 
which are properly manured and thus supplied with abundant humus 
retain more water and yield it up more slowly and evenly to growing 
crops than unmanured soils. The part which the humus takes in 
the water supply of crops is sufficient in itself for placing a high value 
upon the humus of the soil. 


Humus soils are generally considered cold or sour, but this is not 
always true of them. In humus soils decomposition or oxidation of 
the organic materials is constantly taking place, and this oxidation is 
accompanied by the evolution of a certain amount of heat. A portion 
of this heat is used up in warming and evaporating the additional 
water stored up in the soil on account of the humus, but even after 
this is provided for there is still some heat left from the oxidation of 
the humus to aid in warming up the soil. 


It should be observed also that 'humus, as a rule, imparts a darker 
color to the soil, and thus causes it to absorb more of the heat of the 
sun. In autumn humus soils are not affected by sudden changes of 
temperature to the same extent as soils poor in humus, the difference 
frequently being sufficient to ward off an ' early frost and to enable 
corn in the Northern States to reach its full maturity. 

Applications of humus-forming materials, such as manure, have 
frequently been observed to raise the temperature nearly a degree, 
and this in colder climates is often sufficient to prevent the growth of 
a crop from being checked. In the colder regions soils which are poor 
in humus freeze much deeper than soils which are richer in humus. 

In the preceding pages the attempt has been made to demonstrate 
that the chemical action of humus in providing available plant food 
in the soil makes it of the greatest value as a fertilizer; that it assists 
materially in bringing about the physical conditions in the soil best 
suited to the growth of plants; that it furnishes a medium peculiarly 
suited to the activities of such organisms as those of nitrification, 
which are useful in plant growth; and that loss of humus from the 
soil is always attended by a marked deeline in its productiveness. It 
is now important to discuss the means by which this valuable con- 
stituent of soils may be conserved and increased. 


On account of the variable composition of humus it is difficult to 
state the definite amount which should be present in all soils. A 
large amount of humus, containing a very high per cent of carbon, 
approaching in many cases the composition of charcoal, is not as 
valuable as a smaller amount of humus which is capable of readily 
undergoing decomposition. 

With an excessive amount of water, and in the absence or scarcity 
of the proper soil elements, like lime, potash, etc., humus-forming 
materials may produce sour soils, but in good soils well stocked with 
lime there is but little danger of this result. It is safe to conclude, 
therefore, that soils as a rule will be benefited by those systems of 
culture which conserve or increase the humus content. 

The liberal use of well-prepared farm manures, green manuring* 
and a judicious rotation of erops are the three most important means 
of maintaining the humus of the soil. The preparation and use of 
farm manures and green manuring have already been discussed in 
some detail in bulletins from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1 
and it is only necessary to briefly refer to these subjects here. 

In the arid regions, and in many of the prairie sections, the proper 
preparation of farm manures is a problem which has not as yet been 
satisfactorily solved. On account of the slowness of decomposition 

1 Farmers' Bulletins Nos. 16 and 21. 


of the straw in the manure, many farmers in the regions named have 
begun to look upon manure as a detriment rather than a benefit to 
the land. In these regions, however, the soil is in greater need of 
humus than in the regions of uniform summer rains, and it is of the 
highest importance to devise some system of preparing the manure 
produced on the farm so that it may be utilized to the fullest extent. 

The humus materials of the soil may be increased by the use of 
well-prepared muck. It is best to draw the muck during the summer. 
After drying, it can be used as an absorbent in stables, for which pur- 
pose it is very valuable, many mucks having the power of absorbing 
more than their own weight of liquid. When muck is mixed with 
urine, it readily undergoes fermentation, which increases its fertilizing 
value. The brown mucks are much quicker in their action than the 
black. A little marl or land plaster mixed with the muck keeps it 
from forming sour mold. 

Clover and plants of the leguminous family are more suitable for 
green manuring purposes than any other class of farm crops, because, 
in addition to supplying an abundance of humus-forming materials, 
they add to the soil large amounts of nitrogen drawn principally from 
the air. In the South the cowpea is extensively used for this pur- 
pose with good results, and crimson clover has proved valuable on 
the sandy coast soils of the Eastern States. Where land is cheap 
and fertilizers and labor are expensive, green manuring will doubt- 
less prove to be the most economical way of maintaining fertility. 
Where land has a high value and labor is cheap, better returns will 
be obtained from feeding the crop to stock and using the manure 
rather than resorting to green manuring. 

Rotation of crops. — Another means of maintaining the humus of 
the soil is the practice of proper systems of rotation of crops. The 
general laws which apply to the rotation of crops are in perfect accord 
with the conservation of the soil humus, but definite rules can not be 
given on account of the variations in soil and climate of different 
parts of the country. 

The methods of farming which are the most destructive to the soil 
humus are continuous grain cropping without manures and the con- 
tinuous cultivation of cotton, corn, or potatoes, while the methods 
which increase the soil humus are the growing of grass crops and 
dairy and stock farming, which result in the production of large 
quantities of manure. These statements are by no means intended 
to discourage grain, potato, or cotton growing, but they are intended 
to encourage a definite course of rotation in the culture of these 
crops, and the use of more well-prepared farm manures, so as to keep 
up the humus of the soil. 

The influence of different systems of farming on the humus 
content and fertility of soils is illustrated by the four examples, 



selected from a large number of similar import, given in the follow- 
ing table : 

Influence of different systems of farming on the chemical and physicial properties 

of soils. 

Character of soil. 


per cubic 




acid com- 
bined with 


1. Cultivated 35 years; rotation of crops and 

manure; high state of productiveness 

2. Originally same as 1; continuous grain 

cropping for 35 years; low state of pro- 
















Per cent. 



3. Cultivated 42 years; systematic rotation 
and manure; good state of productive- 


4. Originally same as 3; cultivated 35 years; 
no systematic rotation or manure; me- 


Soils Nos. 1 and 2 are from two adjoining farms, and originally bad 
practically the same crop-producing power. No. 1 has received reg- 
ular and liberal dressings of manure, and has produced wheat, corn, 
oats, timothy, and clover in rotation. There has been no apparent 
decline in fertility. No. 2 has been under continuous grain cultiva- 
tion and has never received any farm manure or other humus-forming 
materials. During the first few years heavy crops of wheat were 
raised, but during the past few years the yield has been very low, 
especially in dry seasons. The land has been reduced in wheat- 
producing power from 25 to 8 bushels per acre. 

The main difference between the two soils at the present time is in 
the amount of humus and nitrogen and phosphoric acid. 

Soils Nos. 3 and 4 are from the same farm. No. 3 has been cropped 
forty-two years, timothy and clover, wheat, oats, and corn having 
been raised in rotation. Every five years the land has received 10 
tons of stable manure per acre. No. 4 has been cropped only thirty- 
five years, producing mainly wheat, oats, and corn, with an occasional 
crop of timothy. It has not been cropped continuously to one crop, 
neither has it been under a regular system of rotation. The soil which 
has been cropped forty-two years shows more humus and nitrogen 
than the one which has been cropped thirty-five years. 


(1) The decline in the crop-producing power of many soils is due 
to a loss of the partially decomposed animal and vegetable matters 
known as humus. 

(2) The humus of the soil is decreased by the continuous cultiva- 
tion of grain, cotton, potatoes, or any crop with which the land is 


kept constantly under the plow without the addition of any humus- 
forming materials. 

(3) The loss of humus involves a loss of the nitrogen, which is one 
of the elements composing humus. The loss of nitrogen from the 
soil is not always due simply to the nitrogen removed by the crop, 
but is frequently caused by waste of the humus by improper methods 
and systems of cultivation. 

(4) The humus of the soil is increased by the use of well-prepared 
farm manures, green manures, and by a systematic rotation of crops 
in which grasses, or preferably clover, form an important part. 

(5) The loss of humus from the soil results in decreasing its power 
of storing up and properly supplying crops with water. Soils with a 
liberal amount of humus are capable of more effectually withstand- 
ing drought than similar soils with less humus. In arid regions the 
loss of humus from the soil is more serious than in the regions of 
continuous summer rains. 

(6) In sandy soils the loss of humus is most severely felt. In 
poorly drained soils, where there is a deficiency of lime, potash, and 
other similar materials, the humus may form sour mold, but this can 
usually be corrected by a dressing of lime, marl, or wood ashes. 

(7) Humus-forming materials, like the decaying animal and vege- 
table matters in farm manures, have the power of combining with 
the potash and phosphoric acid of the soil to form humates which are 
readily assimilated by plants when acted upon by the proper soil 
organism. These humates thus increase to a marked extent the 
available plant food of the soil. 

(8) Farm manures and other humus-forming materials are not only 
valuable for the elements of fertility which they contain, but also for 
the power of making the inert material of the soil more available to 

(9) In soils where there is a good stock of reserve materials it is 
cheaper to cultivate fertility through the agency of humus than it 
is to purchase it in the form of commercial fertilizers. 



By B. T. Galloway, 
Chief of the Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, U. S. Department 

of Agriculture. 

The object of this paper is to bring together some of the more 
important facts relating to frosts and freezes as affecting the farmer, 
gardener, and fruit grower. While for the most part the injurious 
effects of frosts on plants will be considered, it must not be forgotten 
that there are other aspects of the case. Frosts may kill or injure 
plants, but they also check many diseases affecting the human family. 
Furthermore, they are of the utmost importance in disintegrating the 
soil and underlying rocks and putting into condition the materials 
necessary for plant growth. These questions, however, do not con- 
cern us here, hence we may pass to a consideration of the kinds of 
frosts and freezes and how they affect plants. 


Frosts and freezes vary both as regards their effects on plants and 
their origin and distribution. 

Light frosts. — These may occur on clear, still nights, when the gen- 
eral temperature of the air is above freezing. If the sky is clear all 
exposed objects will cool down by the radiation of heat from their 
surfaces, and the cooling may proceed so far that the adjacent air 
deposits some of its own moisture upon them. If the temperatures 
of the surfaces and the adjacent air are above freezing this deposit 
will be dew, but if the temperatures fall below freezing the deposit 
will be hoar frost or some other form of ice. 

The loss of heat by radiation is ordinarily checked by natural proc- 
esses, such as a breeze or high wind, the clouding over of the sky, 
the formation of fog, or the convection of heat brought from a neigh- 
boring pond or river or from the warm soil below. In general, there- 
fore, there is a tendency toward lower temperatures and the formation 
of frost on every clear night, the drier the air the greater being this 

1 This paper was prepared under the direction of the Assistant Secretary from 
material furnished by the Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, and 
Prof. Cleveland Abbe, of the U. S. Weather Bureau. 



Light frosts may begin to form a short time before sunrise and may 
be immediately checked by the warmth of the sun's rays. Some- 
times frost may begin to form earlier, say about midnight, but soon 
after be checked by the formation of haze, fog, or cloud, or by the 
starting up of the wind, and thus what would be a serious frost is 
converted into a light one. 

Heavy frosts. — These occur when the air is very dry and large areas 
of clear sky prevail. Under such conditions frost may begin to form 
by midnight, and neither cloud, fog, nor wind will check its progress. 

Local frosts. — There are always to be found some spots where plants 
are peculiarly liable to damage by frosts. Usually such spots are 
a little lower than the surrounding region, and thus the cold air is 
more liable to collect in them, for the reason that the rapid loss of 
heat from the higher places causes the air to contract and become 
heavier. The heavy air then flows down into the depressions, while 
the warm air, being lighter, moves out and up to the higher places. 
Frosts occur in these spots or pockets on still, clear nights, when they 
do not occur on the neighboring dry soils, warm exposures, or high- 
lands. Often a whole township or river valley is subject to local 
frosts, while neighboring townships are far less liable to suffer. 

General frosts. — Frequently the condition of the atmosphere favors 
the occurrence of frost everywhere over large sections of the country. 
On nights when such conditions prevail the freezing is, of course, most 
severe in places subject to local frosts, as in lowlands, and least 
severe, but still injurious, on hilltops. Even then, however, it has 
been noticed that on the slopes of certain mountains there are regions 
rarely or never visited by such frosts. These regions are apparently 
warmed by the flow downhill of the cooling air, so that there is for 
every hillside a certain zone of elevation within which frost is least 
liable to occur. 

Freezes. — It is, of course, difficult to draw the line between a freeze 
and a frost. So far as we are at present concerned, however, a 
freeze differs from a frost merely in intensity. . It may penetrate the 
ground and freeze through and through the roots, stem, branches, 
and other parts of the plant. This may take place and still there 
may be no actual hoar frost visible anywhere on the plant. 


The effects on plants of the different kinds of frosts and freezes are, 
of course, exceedingly variable. Not only do the different degrees of 
cold produce different effects on the same plant, but the same plant 
will often behave differently when subjected to the same degree of 
cold. It is well known that plants or parts of plants in active growth 
are much more easily killed by low temperatures than the same plant 
or part when in a dormant condition. Actively growing plants con- 
tain relatively large quantities of water, so that it may be put down 


as a rule that the larger the proportion of water contained within the 
plants the more likely are they to be injured by cold. It is a matter 
of common observation that quite tender plants may be hardened so 
that they will stand a considerable freeze. 

All the phenomena involved in the freezing of succulent and other 
plants depend on the condition of the protoplasm or living matter in 
the plant cell. If the temperature is sufficiently low to cause a chem- 
ical disorganization of the living substance, the part of the plant 
where this takes place dies. If, on the other hand, no actual disor- 
ganization of the cell contents occurs, the affected parts may recover. 
It is hardly necessary here to enter upon a discussion of the various 
phenomena. Suffice it to say that under the influence of cold the 
water in the cells escapes, and may be frozen either in the spaces 
between the cells or on the surface of the leaf, stem, or whatever the 
part may be. As the temperature rises this frozen water may again 
be taken up by the cells, and in such cases little or no injury results. 
If for any reason, however, the cells are not able to regain the water 
withdrawn by the cold, injury or even death may result. In many 
cases the rapidity with which the ice is thawed has a marked effect 
on the ability of the cells to regain their normal condition. If the 
thaw is gradual, the water is furnished no faster than the cells can 
absorb it, and equilibrium is therefore soon restored, the chemical 
processes which were checked during the freeze are resumed and the 
plant soon regains its normal condition. With a rapid thaw, how- 
ever, the cells are not able to take up the water as fast as it is fur- 
nished, and as a result chemical decomposition sets in and death 
follows. Death in this case is essentially the same as that which 
results from drought. The cell loses water to such an extent that it 
is not again able to become turgid, and as a result it finally withers 
and dies. 

It will be seen from the foregoing that it is not always safe to con- 
clude that a succulent plant is killed because it is frozen. The 
contents of the cells, as has been shown, may have given up much of 
their water in the formation of ice and still be able to revive under 
proper conditions. These conditions, however, will be discussed more 
in detail in another part of this paper. 

Speaking generally, it is the late spring and early autumn frosts 
which are the most damaging to the farmer, gardener, and fruit 
grower. These frosts are especially destructive where intensive culti- 
vation is practiced, as, for example, among truck farmers, market gar- 
deners, growers of peaches, grapes, and small fruits, tobacco raisers, 
and others. Early autumn frosts are frequently very destructive in 
the Eastern grape regions, coming on and destroying the grapes before 
they can be gathered. 

The general frosts and freezes which prevail during winter are de- 
structive to plants in many ways, only a few of which can be referred 


to here. The separation of the bark from the wood in many of our 
trees, notably the apple, is one of the most serious troubles. In some 
parts of the West, particularly in Illinois, Missouri, and Nebraska, it 
is not an uncommon thing for hundreds of bearing trees to be killed 
by this trouble, which, to the best of our present knowledge, is due, 
either directly or indirectly, to freezing. By the formation of ice in the 
cambium layer, or active growing tissue between the wood and bark, 
the bark is forced away from the wood, the rupture probably taking 
place in the layer itself. Sometimes the bark is split, but usually 
this is not the case. The injured parts may not die immediately, and 
for this reason the damage may not become apparent for months i. e., 
toward the middle of summer, at which time the leaves appear sickly 
and an examination will show the injury to the trunk near the ground. 
Usually the trunk is most severely injured on the side toward the 
sun, and on this account the opinion generally prevails among fruit 
growers that the trouble is largely broiight about by alternate freez- 
ing and thawing or by sudden thawing after a severe or prolonged 

One of the common effects of freezing on the trunks of trees is the 
splitting of the bark and wood. This is usually due to the formation 
of ice in the heartwood, producing a high internal pressure. It rarely 
causes any particular damage to the tree, excepting its disfigurement. 

It is a matter of common observation that a dry summer, followed 
by a wet autumn, leaves plants in poor condition to stand the winter. 
During the dry summer the plants remain in a partial resting condi- 
tion, and when rains set in there is a renewed period of growth, Which 
does not mature before winter and is therefore killed by the first hard 
freeze. Late summer plowing or the application of stimulating fer- 
tilizers toward the close of the season also frequently results in the 
formation of immature wood, which is killed during the winter. 
Undoubtedly also the defoliation of many of our fruit trees, notably 
the pear, by such fungous diseases as leaf blight, results in the forma- 
tion of wood which is easily winterkilled. 


Use of the daily weather map. — The possibility of being able to 
determine in advance the approach of frosts likely to be destructive 
to growing crops is of the utmost importance to those engaged in more 
or less intensive lines of agriculture. The market gardener, the truck 
farmer, the fruit grower, and others engaged in similar lines of work 
often have the greatest interests at stake in the spring and fall, and 
there is no doubt that timely frost warnings are of the greatest value 
to them. 

In making predictions of approaching frosts the most reliable infor- 
mation is to be obtained from a study of the daily weather map issued 
by the Weather Bureau. Those maps, unfortunately, can not reach 


all who are actually engaged in raising plants, and too often their 
value is not understood by those who really have access to them.' For 
the latter reason it seems desirable to offer a few suggestions as to 
how the maps may be made useful, especially to those living near 
cities, where the maps can in all probability be obtained early each day. 
To make the matter clear, a specimen weather map is reproduced in 
the accompanying illustration (fig. 8). 

At first sight this map presents merely a number of lines and 
figures, which, however, will be clear after a little explanation and 
study. The full black lines indicate the pressure of the atmosphere 
as shown by the barometer, while the broken lines indicate the tem- 
perature of the free air at the level of the highest housetops. Shaded 
portions show where rain or snow has fallen during the twelve hours 
preceding the issue of the map. 

... I^j^^^^^^'^ ..... 

S \ , \|' L.'V..'v.'l:v. k'J '"' » '■ - 

' .\/ : — H ji)'. i.b:(! t ..., . V - 

Fig. 8. — Specimen weather map. 

In addition to the lines numerous dots, or symbols, are seen. Each 
of these has its special significance, which is as follows : 

\An arrow indicates the direction in 
which the wind is blowing ; that 
is, it flies with the wind. 

q A circle indicates a clear sky and 
calm weather at that place. 

A dot with a black bar indicates a 
sky half clouded. 


\-* A cross-barred dot indicates that it 
Tf is snowing. 

^ A black dot with a white center 
Tf indicates a wholly clouded sky. 

•w A full black dot indicates that it is 

^ raining, and when combined with 

an arrow shows the direction of the wind. 

It will be seen from the map that the series of black lines are 
arranged in approximate circles around two spots, one of which is 


marked "low" and the other "high." These two words have refer- 
ence to the state of the barometer. The areas of low pressure travel 
over the country generally from west to east, and as a rule each is 
followed by an area of high pressure, so that a continuous succession 
of low and high areas are passing over. The lows are commonly asso- 
ciated with rain or snow and a rising temperature, while the highs 
mark the advent of clear weather, with falling temperature, frosts, 
etc. Sometimes the lows and highs move from the southwest to the 
northeast, and sometimes they come from the northwest, turn to the 
east in the region of the Missouri River, and pass northeastward over 
the Great Lakes to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In winter they often 
move from the northwest as far south as Louisiana, and then turn 
northeast. Sometimes areas of low pressure originate in the West 
Indies, move northwest, and turn northeast. These occur chiefly 
in August and September, constituting the West Indian hurricanes, 
and are usually accompanied by downpours of rain and by high winds. 

The observations which form the basis of the weather maps are 
made twice daily, at 8 o'clock morning and evening, seventy-fifth 
meridian time, which is 7 o'clock by standard central time, at all the 
stations in different parts of the United States where the work is 
carried on. As soon as the observations are made they are tele- 
graphed to the local forecasters and also to Washington, and are used 
in making the published forecasts and maps. 

To properly interpret a map with reference to frosts, several points 
must be kept in mind. In the first place, the injurious frosts and 
freezes, as already pointed out, usually occur in connection with the 
high areas. In the front or advancing edge of a cold wave, the fall 
in temperature is apt to be great and sudden and is in such cases pre- 
dicted by the Weather Bureau by the cold- wave signal. Oftentimes, 
however, the fall is too gradual to justify a cold-wave signal and yet 
is sufficient to bring on a dry freeze or a heavy frost. At other times 
the general air temperatures are too high to produce a general frost, 
but after the wind has gone down a light or local frost occurs. 

There is not sufficient regularity in the movement of the high areas 
to justify a prediction several days in advance, but from the map of 
any morning it may safely be decided whether there is a probability 
of danger in any particular locality on the following morning. The 
sudden and severe changes in temperature are shown on the map by 
heavy dotted lines, marking the regions where the temperature has 
fallen twenty degrees or more in the preceding twenty-four hours. 
These, however, are the temperatures of the wind as it blows through 
the thermometer shelters used by the Weather Bureau, but as the 
shelters are located high above the ground it is necessary to remember 
that the temperatures of the surface of the ground in the open air at 
sunrise will be decidedly lower than those shown upon the map. As 
a rule, a minimum temperature of 40° F. in a Weather Bureau shelter 


on a clear night means a temperature lower than 32°, or freezing, on 

the roofs of buildings in the city or at the surface of 

the ground in the adjacent country. There are, in 

fact, many cases in which frosts have been recorded 

when the adjacent Weather Bureau record was as 

high as 47°. 

Summarizing briefly the facts in regard to the use 
of the map, it may be said that the lows and highs 
pass over the country westward to eastward, moving 
at the rate of about 500 miles a day. The lows are 
usually accompanied by relatively warm weather, 
rains, or snows, while the highs are accompanied 
by clear and cool or cold weather and high winds. 
"With a knowledge of these facts it will be seen that 
the maps can be made to serve a very useful purpose, 
as the progress of approaching storms, good weather, 
cold waves, or frosts can be foreseen from day to day. 
The predictions of frost are verified in so many cases 
that those having large interests at stake should 
endeavor to obtain as early as possible the warnings 
sent out. Of course, in this connection local con- 
ditions must be considered. Light local rains pre- 
ceding a cold wave may often be. sufficient to protect 
the regions where the precipitation has occurred. 
The character of the soil, the shape of the land, prox- 
imity to forests, water, etc. , will all have more or less 
influence. Those who grow plants are naturally close 
observers of local meteorological conditions, and with 
the knowledge of the peculiarities of the farm as 
regards liability to frost, aided by the published 
warnings, proper precautions can be taken. 

Local observations on moisture of the air. — The air 
always contains moisture, but the amount varies 
greatly. As the temperature of the air rises its ca- 
pacity for moisture increases, and consequently as it 
becomes colder its capacity for moisture becomes less. 
It is obvious, therefore, that if air containing a given 
amount of moisture is cooled to a certain point it will 
eventually become saturated or reach what is known 
as the dew-point. If the temperature at which dew 
is formed is above freezing, then the plants will be 
protected from further cooling; but if the air has so 
little moisture that it must be cooled to a tempera- 
ture below freezing before dew is formed, then there 
is a probability that the plant will be injured by 

., , , , FlO. 9.-Sling psy- 

the low temperatures. chrometer. 


The determination of the dew-point may be made at sunset, or, pref- 
erably, a little later, and if it remains unchanged during the night it 
aids in determining whether frost is likely to occur. A number of 
instruments are used for determining the dew-point, one of the sim- 
plest and most inexpensive of which is known as the sling psychrom- 
eter. This consists of two thermometers fastened side by side on a 
metal back, as shown in fig. 9. One of the thermometers has a cover- 
ing of very thin muslin slipped over the bulb containing the mercury. 
The other thermometer has no covering whatever. To use the instru- 
ment the thermometer having its bulb covered with muslin is dipped 
in a cup or wide-mouth bottle containing clean rain water or water as 
free from mineral matter as possible. After the muslin is thoroughly 
soaked with water, the instrument is whirled rapidly in the air for 
about a minute. This is done by means of the handle shown in the 
figure. The thermometers are then stopped and both are read as 
quickly as possible. A mental note of the two readings is made and 
the instrument is again whirled and again read as before. This is 
repeated three or four times, or until the reading of the bulb covered 
with wet muslin, or the wet bulb, as it is called, is found to remain 
nearly stationary. Ordinarily it will be found that there is a differ- 
ence of several degrees between the reading of the wet and dry bulbs, 
as the former is cooled by the evaporation. This difference is known 
as the depression of the wet bulb, and increases in proportion to the 
dryness of the air in which the instrument is being whirled. When 
the air is saturated the wet and dry bulbs will agree very closely. 
From the readings obtained as described the dew-point may be deter- 
mined by means of the tables given below : 

Table 1. — Temperature of the dew-point in degrees Fahrenheit. 


Difference between the dry 
and wet thermometers {t — t'). 


k ° 

Difference between the dry 
and wet thermometers( t— V ) . 



































































+ 1 

— 8 
















- 5 















































+ 3 



























































































































































Table 1.— Temperature of the dew-point in degrees Fahrenheit— Continued. 

© s 

+= © 


Difference between the dry 
and wet thermometers it— t'). 

k^ 1! 

© © 


a s 
-w h i 



k o 


Difference between the dry 
and wet thermometers (t—t r ). 

2 3 

+-> <u 
k o 





















54 j 



















































































































































































































Table 2.— 

Temperature of the dew-point in degrees Fahrenheit. 

fe u 

Difference between the dry and 

(H ^ 

(h U 

Difference between the dry and 


s s 


wet thermometers (*—*')■ 


k ° 

wet thermometers it 

— V). 





















— 8 

— 5 


















+ 3 

— 9 














— 3 

+ 3 

— 6 


































+ 3 

— 6 














— 2 















+ 1 

- 9 

















— 5 



































+ 2 

— 8 


















— 4 



































+ 4 

— 6 


















— 2 


















+ 2 


































































































































To determine the dew-point, use the instrument as described, mak- 
ing a note of the readings. Now suppose, for example, that the dry- 
bulb thermometer stands at 54 and the wet bulb at 45. The difference 
between 45 and 54 is 9. Find first 54 in the left-hand column of the 
table, then the number on the same line with it in column 9, table 2. 
This is 34, the dew-point, or probably the lowest point the tempera- 
ture will reach during the night. The rule, then, to find the dew-point 
is: Subtract the reading of the wet bulb from that of the dry; find 
the reading of the dry bulb in the left-hand column of the table; 
then on a line with this, in the column showing the same figure as the 
difference between the wet and dry bulbs, will be found the figures 
indicating the dew-point. 

In whirling the psychrometer some precautions are necessary, lest 
the instrument be broken. It would be well before actually using 
the instrument to practice whirling a stick of approximately the same 
weight. The handle on the psychrometer may be removed and fas- 
tened to the stick if desired. If the sun is shining the instrument 
should be whirled in the shade of a tree or a house, and always out of 
doors where there is a free circulation of air. 



As already pointed out, the greatest injury to growing crops from 
frosts occurs in early spring and autumn. It is possible, of course, 
to prevent these injuries, but it may not always be profitable or 
practicable to do so. For example, a 300-acre field of young corn 
might be saved from severe frost injury, but the cost of the saving 
would be almost as much as the crop would be worth. Where inten- 
sive cultivation is practiced, however, as in the case of tobacco 
growing, fruit and vegetable growing, etc., it is often practicable to 
prevent, at reasonable cost, much of the injury that might result if 
the plants are left exposed. Some of these methods will now be 
described. It must be remembered, however, that to profit by them 
careful attention to the suggestions in regard to the foretelling of 
frosts will be necessary. 

Shielding plants by means of straw, soil, etc. — In low-growing crops, 
such as strawberries and many kinds of vegetables, it is often prac- 
ticable to prevent injuries from frost by covering the plants with 
straw, marsh hay, or similar material. Of course it may not always 
be possible to obtain straw, but where this material is at hand it 
can be spread rapidly and may result in saving a very valuable crop. 
Large plantations of strawberries have been covered in this way, the 
work being continued throughout the night. Although the last plants 
covered may be slightly frozen, the covering will prevent rapid thaw- 
ing, and the crop may in this way be saved. Valuable beds of sweet 
potatoes, tomatoes, and other plants may often be saved, even after 


being frozen, by covering with straw before thawing begins and allow- 
ing the straw to remain all the next day. Young plants of melons, 
cucumbers, tomatoes, etc., in the field may frequently be saved by 
throwing on a light covering of soil with a plow. It requires very 
little time to run a furrow down the rows of plants, and the soil can 
be easily and quickly removed by hand the next day or as soon as 
the danger is past. 

Cloth frames are now extensively used by market gardeners and 
others in protecting beds of young plants in spring from cold and 
frosts. These frames are usually made of 1 by 3 inch white pine 
strips. They are 3 feet wide and 6 feet long, and have a brace run- 
ning diagonally from corner to corner to strengthen them. For a 
covering, protection cloth, sold by nearly all seedsmen, is used. This 
consists of oiled muslin of different grades and prices. The best 
of this material can be bought for about 10 cents a yard. This 
will make the 
frames cost 
about 50 cents 
each, and with 
good care they 
will last for 
several years. 
The frames 
will be found 
useful for cov- 
ering hotbeds 
and cold 
frames, and 
offer nearly as 
good protec- 
tion as glass. 
Shallow box 

frames, about 14 inches square, covered with the protection cloth, are 
also very useful for covering hills of young melons, cucumbers, etc., 
in the field. In crops of this kind earliness is, of course, the all- 
important consideration. If cut back by frosts, the crop is delayed 
until it has comparatively little value, hence the importance of using 
every method to bring it in early. The cloth-covered boxes can be 
made for 5 cents each, and in addition to protecting the plants from 
cold, winds, and frosts will be found very useful in preventing the 
ravages of numerous insects which feed on the crop. 

Screens and wind-breaks. — In many cases plants can be protected 
from the injurious effects of light or even moderately heavy frosts 
by sheds or screens made of laths, boards, or other suitable material. 
Such sheds serve another purpose, that is, shading plants from the 
hot summer sun. Fig. 10 shows a screen of laths used for shading 

Fia. 10.— Lath screen for protecting plants from frosts. 


Fig. 11.— Board screen for protecting plants from hot sun and frosts. 

plants during summer and for protecting them against earl}- spring 
and autumn frosts. In this case the laths are fastened to ordinary 
clothesline wire by means of small staples. When not in use the 

screens may 
be rolled up 
and stored 
away un- 
til again 

form of shed 
is shown in 
fig. 11. This 
is made of 
cheap pine 
boards 10 feet 
long and 8 to 
12 inches 
wide. The 
stringers, as 
will be seen, 
are nailed to 

posts, which are about 1\ feet high. Spaces 4 to G inches wide are left 
between the boards. Sheds similar to these, but usually made of nar- 
row strips, are extensively used in southern Florida for protecting 
the pineapple 
against hot 
sun in sum- 
mer and cold 
winds and 
frost in win- 

The injuri- 
ous effects of 
cold winds 
m ay fre- 
quently be 
prevented by 
suitable wind- 
breaks. In 
market -gar- 
dening opera- 
tions, where 

.':.:mv?sda£^#te«^ l ISj 

Fia. 13.— Board wall for protecting hotbeds, cold frames, etc., 
cold winds. 

hotbeds are used, such a protection is very important. For this 
purpose a tight board wall is built, as shown in fig. 12. The wall is 
made at the north side of the frames and is from 7£ to 8 feet high. It 


is given a slight tip to the north in order to offer better facilities for 
holding up the straw mats used to cover the glass on cold nights. 
Natural or artificial groves of trees may frequently be utilized as 
wind-breaks. Cedar and arbor- vitae offer very effective barriers to 
winds, and where special crops are cultivated in an intensive way 
such barriers will be found very useful. 

Smoke and fire as protection against frost— On still nights, when 
the temperature barely reaches 32° F., it is ofteu possible to prevent 
frost injuries by making a smudge, thus covering the field with a 
haze, which prevents the rapid loss of heat. Dense smoke can be pro- 
duced by burning wet straw, wet leaves, sawdust, etc. A mixture of 
two-thirds sawdust and one-third gas tar makes an effectual material 
for forming a smudge. The quantities of these materials burned will 
have to be regulated largely by surrounding conditions. It is prefer- 
able to have small fires at frequent intervals rather than large ones 
more scattered. 

Gas tar alone may be used, and in such cases cheap iron kettles 
are distributed in the orchard, vineyard, etc., the number of kettles 
being proportionate to the liability of different parts of the ground 
to frost. The coal tar is placed in the kettles, and whenever indica- 
tions of frost appear the contents of the kettles are lighted. This is 
accomplished by a man passing rapidly from kettle to kettle with a 
torch and a can of benzine or gasoline, a little of this inflammable 
material being poured into the kettle, and the torch applied. The 
burning of the tar results in the formation of considerable smoke, 
and there is also sufficient heat to keep the air in motion. The 
smudge-pot system is not used as much as formerly, as it does not 
protect the fruit from a degree" of cold much below the freezing point, 
and furthermore for the reason that the kettles are often burned 
out before morning, after which time the frost may still prove 

A modification of the foregoing system is used to some extent in 
certain parts of California. In this case, iron drums, holding per- 
haps 100 gallons, are placed in rows through the orchard about 100 
feet apart in the row. The drums are similar to those commonly 
used for shipping oil and gasoline. In the orchard they are placed 
horizontally on framework supports so as to lie about 20 inches 
above the ground. From each end of the drum a line of gas pipe is 
laid for some 40 feet along the ground toward the adjoining drums. 
At intervals of about 10 feet along these pipes are placed iron 
kettles, which are supplied with crude oil from the main drums. 
The piping is so arranged as to discharge the oil directly downward 
into the kettles. The pipes leading out of the drums have stopcocks 
to regulate the flow of oil into the pipes, and each of the small pipes 
entering into the kettles is also furnished with a stopcock to control 
the discharge of oil. When it is apparent that frost is about to 


occur, a man passes from tank to tank, opening the supply pipes and 
regulating the flow into the kettles, at the same time lighting the 
oil with a torch in the manner already described. The advantage 

_^-_., __._ „._ .._ ..^ _. of this system is 

■^^'^^■■-Z-i-.r.'^ jsry.-y : : ,': .-] that the supply 

Fig. 13.— Apparatus for smudging orchards. 

of oil is constant 
and fire can be 
maintained as 
long as required. 
Fig. 13 shows 
the method of 
using the system 
venting frost in- 
juries. There 
are also some 
which should be 

mentioned, chief of which is the expense connected with the work. 
It is also claimed that the fruit is frequently soiled by the smut which 
rises from the kettles and settles on all parts of the trees. 

Flooding, irrigating, and spray- 
ing.— -The free use of water may 
often save certain crops from de- 
struction by frosts. The cranberry 
marshes, for example, are fre- 
quently flooded when frost is pre- 
dicted and thus injury is avoided. 
Where it is possible to irrigate, 
frost injuries may frequently be 
prevented to a large extent. Irri- 
gation in early spring may delay 
the opening of buds until danger 
of frost is past. In certain parts 
of California it is the practice to 
run irrigating furrows between the 
trees, and on nights when frost is 
likely to occur water is run through 
the furrows. This practice might 
be followed in other sections where 
it is possible to obtain water. 

A method used to some extent in 
California, and which might prove 
of value elsewhere, is illustrated in fig. 14. This is a system of spray- 
ing far above the ground, whereby the air is charged with a fine fog- 
like mist during the colder parts of the night. To accomplish this 


14.— Apparatus for spraying orchards 
with water. 


the orchard is first piped below ground with small pipes. From these, 
perpendicular pipes are carried up to the height of 40 feet. There 
are 100 of these pipes in every 10 acres of trees under treatment, or 
an average of 10 to the acre. They are held in position by passing 
through the center of wooden supports made in the form of a box. 
This pole-like box is formed of three parts. The lower third is made 
of four 6-inch boards nailed together at the edges; the second length, 
which extends downward through the first as well as far above it, is 
made of four 1-inch boards, also nailed together at the edges; the 
third and last length is of two 1-inch boards nailed edge to edge, and 
is supported by extending down for some distance into the middle 
length of boxing. Across the top of each perpendicular pipe is con- 
nected a pipe of the same size 4 feet long. Each end of this cross- 
pipe is furnished with a fine cyclone nozzle, with the discharge turned 
upward. At the base of each main pipe, just above the ground, is a 
stopcock for regulating the supply of water. All the ground pipes 
in the orchard unite in one common supply pipe, which passes through 
the sleeping house of a watchman and connects with the main of the 

The watchman's house is located on that side of the orchard most 
subject to injury from frost. It consists of a single room, simply 
furnished, and is supplied with a telephone connected with the 
house of the superintendent, as well as with an electric alarm in 
connection with a thermostat, or alarm thermometer, located in the 
orchard. When the temperature in the orchard falls to 32° an elec- 
tric circuit is completed by the contraction of the metallic ther- 
mometer, or thermostat, and two alarms are given, one in the room 
of the watchman and another in the residence of the superintendent, 
there being wires laid from the orchard to both these places. As soon 
as the alarm is rung, the watchman, by opening the cock in the 
supply pipe which passes through his house, can at once turn on the 
water to all the pipes and spray nozzles. The result is a fog-like 
mist thrown upward by 100 cyclone nozzles over the entire 10 acres 
in the block of trees thus protected. This mist soon fills the air to a 
height of 45 feet, and any stir drifts it about like a bank of fog. 


. The injury to apple and other fruit trees as a result of the alternate 
freezing and thawing of the tissues has been pointed out. Such 
injuries are likely to be more severe in seasons of summer drought 
followed by, copious fall rains. During such seasons every effort 
should be made to conserve the moisture in the soil. Frequent sur- 
face cultivation, therefore, is highly important. 

In planting orchards the importance of properly selecting soils and 
varieties as resistant as possible to the effects of drought should be 
kept constantly in mindi Good results have been obtained in pre- 
venting frost injury to the trunks of fruit trees by fixing a board 


on the southwest side of the main body. Another very satisfactory 
method is to train a water sprout on the southwest side o f the trunk, 
cutting the same back so as to form a bushy growth. 

Mulching the ground around the trees is frequently practiced with 
beneficial results. The mulch assists in holding the water in the soil, 
and also prevents the freezing of the ground around the roots, which 
latter is frequently the cause of serious trouble to fruit trees, ever- 
greens, and other woody plants. Under the action of cold, dry winds 
the parts of the trees above ground lose their water, and the roots 
(being practically unable to obtain a new supply on account of the 
frozen condition of the soil), the smaller branches, and frequently the 
large limbs perish from drought. 

Fig. 15. — Protecting trunks of orchard trees from frost Injuries by means of water sprouts. 

The effects of fall cultivation, the application dn late summer of 
stimulating manures, and the early defoliation of the trees by the 
attacks of fungi, have already been briefly referred to. In each of 
the foregoing cases the tendency is to cause late fall growth, the 
tissues of which do not have sufficient time to mature, and as a result 
are killed by the ordinary winter conditions. The remedy, so far as 
fall cultivation and application of manures are concerned, is plain, viz, 
to discontinue such methods. 

In the case of fungous diseases which cause the loss of the leaves in 
early summer, spraying with fungicides should be carried on. This 
work is now so well understood as to require no description here. 
Suffice it to say that the matter has been very fully discussed in other 
publications of the Department, 1 to Avhich the reader is referred. 

1 Bulletins Nos. 6 and 7 and Farmers' Bulletin No. 37, Division of Vegetable 
Physiology and Pathology, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 



By Herbert J. Webber, 
Assistant, Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, U. S. Department of 



The winter of 1894-95 was rendered memorable in Florida by two 
of the most severe freezes which have taken place since careful 
records have been kept. The injuries to the fruit industries were 
very great, orange, lemou, and many tropical trees being generally 
killed to the ground in all parts of the State except in the extreme 
southern portion and on the keys. Certain well-protected localities 
in the central part of the peninsula also escaped without serious 
damage, but on the whole, latitude was the only modifying influence 
of importance. As the blizzards swept southward their severity 
gradually decreased. Judging from reliable temperature records 
and from the effects of the cold on vegetation, the isothermal lines 
in both freezes ran almost directly east and west across the State. 
From experience and observation in these freezes many important 
points have been noted as to ways in which plants may be protected 
against the effects of frost, and the best methods for quickly restor- 
ing fruit trees which have been frozen down. These will be discussed 
in this paper. 

On December 27, 1894, the first blizzard began to be felt. This 
culminated December 29, when the temperature 1 fell to 14° above 
zero at Jacksonville, one degree lower than during the great freeze 
of January 12, 1886. The fall in temperature was accompanied by 
a strong wind, which, at most stations, reached a maximum velocity 
of from 25 to 30 miles per hour. At most places throughout the 
northern and central parts of the State killing frosts and freezing 
temperatures occurred for three days in succession — December 27, 
28, and 29. For several days after this blizzard the weather was gen- 
erally clear and comparatively cold. 

The second blizzard, which was very similar to the first, extended 
over three days — February 7, 8, and 9, 1895. The lowest temperature 
recorded was on the morning of February 8, when at Jacksonville it 
again fell to 14°. The reports from stations throughout the orange 
belt showed a temperature ranging from 16° to 19°. This freeze 

■All temperature records given in this paper are according to Fahrenheit. 



also was accompanied by a strong wind, the maximum velocity of 
which was from 30 to 35 miles an hour. Killing frosts were reported 
from almost all stations in northern and central Florida on February 
8 and 9, and in various parts of these sections of the State snow and 
sleet fell. For several days after this freeze the weather was gener- 
ally clear throughout the State. 

The following are the minimum temperatures recorded at various 
selected stations during the freezes of 1886 and 1894-95, the stations 
being arranged in oi'der of latitude from north to south : 

Minimum, temperatures recorded during the freezes of 1886 and 189^-95. 



St. Augustine 

Federal Point 

De Land 





Merritts Island 



Avon Park 



West Palm Beach . 



Key West.. _. 


30 19J 

29 53i 

89 45 

29 OOJ 

28 5l£ 

28 321 

28 22* 

28 05} 

27 57 

27 36J 

27 30 

26 56± 

26 43 

26 39 

26 351 

24 381 

Minimum temperature. 

January 12, December February 

1886. 29,1894. 8,1895. 



I" 1 


32 1 

41. 43' 






1 Records are not official. 

These records will serve to show the comparative severity of the two 
freezes of last winter and that of 1886, and the gradual abatement of 
the severity of each as it progressed southward. From a comparison 
of the locations given in the table above it will be seen that in any 
given latitude practically the same temperature prevailed in localities 
whether in the western part of the State, in the interior, or on the 
east coast. The Manatee region, protected on the north by the broad 
Manatee River and Tampa Bay, shows almost the same temperature 
as Avon Park, in about the same latitude, in the interior, and Mel- 
bourne on the east coast. Again, Myers, on the west coast, protected 
on the north by the broad Caloosahatchee River, and West Palm 
Beach, on the east coast, protected on the west by the waters of the 
Everglades, show nearly the same temperature. 

Since the blizzards of last winter the fact that killing freezes have 
occurred before in Florida has been brought prominently to notice. 


It is known that severe freezes occurred in the winters of 1747, 1766, 
1774, 1799, 1828, 1835, 1850, 1857, 1880, 1884, and 1886, and many 
lesser freezes are also known to have taken place. Those which were 
remarkably severe, however, and which are spoken of as "the great 
freezes," occurred on February 7 and 8, 1835, and January 12, 1886. 
In the former, the only one which in severity and destructiveness 
compares with those of last winter, the thermometer, it is said, fell 
to 8° at Jacksonville. This freeze is reported to have killed orange 
trees from 40 to 50 years old at St. Augustine and Mandarin. The 
freeze of 1886 destroyed most of the orange crop, killed young orange 
trees, and froze all trees back somewhat. Although the damage from 
this freeze was very great, it was mostly repaired the next year, as the 
crop that season was larger than ever before. The recorded temper- 
atures of either of the freezes of the winter of 1894-95 are but slightly 
lower than those of 1886, and consequently either one alone would not 
have done much greater damage. Their extremely disastrous effects 
were due to the fact of their having occurred so close together. 

From the above statements it appears that many disastrous freezes 
have occurred in the past, and it is reasonable to assume that similar 
freezes will take place in the future. It therefore behooves Florida 
growers to profit by past experiences and take such precautions as 
are possible to avoid future losses from this source. 


Damage caused by the first freeze. — At the time of this freeze, De- 
cember 27-29, 1894, the orange and other citrus trees were largely 
dormant and the injury was thus not so great. At the time the 
blizzard occurred it is estimated that there were about 3,000,000 
boxes of oranges still on the trees. These, of course, were almost a 
total loss. When cut open the morning of the 29th, the fruits were 
found to be a solid mass of ice, the pulp having the appearance of 
wateiy snow. 

The same was true of all lemons, pomeloes, and other citrus fruits 
which remained on the trees. The leaves were frozen stiff and 
rattled in the wind. The vegetation as a whole did not begin to 
wither until December 30, which was a bright day. Thin, fragile 
leaves, like the common guava (Psidium guajava) and castor-oil bean 
(Bicinus communis), withered very quickly in the sun, but thick- 
leaved _plants, like the eucalyptus, Cattley guava (Psidium cattley- 
anum), and orange, were slow to show the effect of the frost. "When 
protected from the direct rays of the sun, many orange leaves remained 
green and apparently fresh for five or six days. All leaves were 
killed, however, except in a few protected groves on the south side 
of large lakes, like Lake Eustis and Lake Harris, and in the southern 
part of the State. The leaves did not fall immediately, as is their 
wont in case of slight injuries, but remained attached to the tree 
2 A 95 6 


until about January 7, at which time they were dry and crisp. 
After this the dropping was gradual, and was caused entirely by out- 
side forces, such as the wind. The fruit began dropping about 
January 10. This was also very gradual, being caused, as in the case 
of the leaves, by the wind, etc. 

The frozen oranges and pomeloes remained firm and solid for fully 
a month after the freeze, and were eaten in great numbers and also 
shipped to Northern markets. It is safe to say that there has never 
been a time in the history of Florida or America when so many oranges 
were eaten in so short a time. The cautions of physicians were un- 
heeded, but the result was not disastrous, as many feared. Indeed, 
such sickness as occurred from eating frozen oranges was unques- 
tionably due to excessive indulgence. Many of the frozen oranges 
were sent to Northern markets and plaeed on sale while still juicy 
and palatable. In some cities their sale was forbidden by the 
health authorities, who claimed that they were injurious, but this 
claim has been thoroughly disproved by their extensive use, as above 

In frozen oranges white specks, frequently as large as half a milli- 
meter in diameter, form in the membranes between the segments and 
in the membranes of the pulp vesicles. They are so invariably 
present in frozen oranges, even where the fruit is but slightly injured, 
that they may be considered as evidence of the effect of freezing. 
These specks are apparently masses of hesperidin crystals, separated 
from the cell sap by chemical changes caused by freezing. These 
characteristic specks are also found in frozen lemons and pomeloes, 
and probably in all citrus fruits. 

The lemon and citron were the first of the citrus plants to show 
the effects of the freeze. The leaves withered and turned brown in 
about two days after the freeze, and the fruits became soft and 
watery, and hung as flabby, misshapen masses as soon as thawed out. 
Frequently the bark of lemon, citron, and pomelo trees burst open 
on the trunk, large fissures being formed. Very few sweet or sour 
orange trees were found to be injured in this manner. Practically 
all lemon trees in the northern and central portions of the State were 
killed to the ground by the first freeze. Many pomelo trees were also 
killed, but others escaped with the loss of most of their limbs. 

About January 18 the buds of orange trees began to push, and in 
a few days numerous sprouts were growing vigorously. By this time 
the injured wood had become plainly marked in most cases. An 
examination of many orange groves made at this time showed that 
small sweet seedlings and budded orange trees were in most cases 
killed to the ground. The budded trees suffered somewhat more 
than the seedlings, the point of union between stoek and graft being 
apparently very easily injured. However, it was found that budded 
or seedling sweet-orange trees which had reached a diameter of from 



4 to 6 inches or over were seldom seriously injured. It was also 
found that where budded trees had reached this size, and the point 
of union of stock and bud was not injured, the tops were, as a rule, 
not so much injured as those of seedling trees. The small twigs were 
killed back from 12 to 18 inches, while the seedlings were apparently 
killed much farther back. The budded trees of tBe size mentioned 
also showed much more vigor in reviving than seedlings, starting 
growth sooner and growing more rapidly. 

The period for two weeks preceding the second freeze was, unfortu- 
nately, fine growing weather, the night temperature not falling below 
50°, and the day temperature usually reaching 80°. The result was a 
very rapid growth, especially in budded trees. At the time of the 
second freeze, commencing February 7, 1895, this growth had reached 
a length of from 1 to 4 inches, and flower buds were forming on many 

Fig. 18.— An old orange grove killed down by the cold and throwing up sprouts from the base of 
the trunk. The tops were cut off shortly after the second freeze. Photographed October Z5, 

of the trees; the orange groves had begun to look promising, and 
growers felt much encouraged and were quite elated by the fact that 
the orange tree had shown itself capable of resisting such a low 

Disastrous results of the second freeze. — Such were the conditions 
when, on February 7, 8, and 9, 1895, the second blizzard swept over 
the State. No fruit was now left to be destroyed, but the rapidly 
growing trees, stripped of their normal dense foliage, were exposed to 
the full strength of the cold blast, and the little life left was entirely 
destroyed in many of them. The oldest and youngest trees, whether 
sweet or sour, were alike killed to the ground throughout the greater 
part of the State. In many groves this was true of large budded and 
seedling orange trees from 20 to 40 years old or more (fig. 16), while in 


other groves, frequently in the same vicinity, sprouts have been thrown 
out on the old trunks for some distance up. This is particularly true 
of hammock groves, which seem to have suffered least. 

The extent of the damage to orange trees did not become apparent 
for some months after the freeze. Many of the large trees threw out 
sprouts on the trunks some distance up. These struggled along for 
a time, making considerable growth, but in many cases subsequently 
died back entirely, the bark having been killed below. This sprout- 
ing out and dying back continued more or less throughout the 
summer, but the growth which remained healthy until July has in 
most instances continued to the present time (November 1, 1895). 

The effect of water protection was in many cases very noticeable. 
In groves on the south side of Lake Harris and Lake Eustis, for 
instance, several rows of trees nearest the water retained some of 
their leaves, and the effects of the protection afforded was apparent 
for about half a mile back from the lakes. On Terraceia Island, in 
Tampa Bay, even lemons escaped unhurt, and in some groves on the 
mainland bordering on the bay orange trees were almost entirely 
unharmed and lemon trees only slightly injured. Passing away 
from the bay, however, the effect of even this broad expanse of 
water gradually disappeared, being hardly noticeable 2 miles distant. 
The orange groves south of Braidentown and Manatee, and 2 miles 
distant from the broad Manatee River, were about as badly injured 
as groves in the interior of the State in the same latitude. 

The effects of the freezes were also considerably ameliorated by 
forest protection. This was particularly noticeable in groves where 
large numbers of palmettoes and some oaks and magnolias were 
allowed to stand among the orange trees. Again, thick wind-breaks 
perceptibly protected a few rows of trees nearest to them. 

Orange trees not protected were injured as far south as Myers 
(26° 39'). The damage south of the twenty-seventh parallel of 
latitude, however, was not serious, consisting merely of injury to a 
few of the top leaves and young branches. The mandarin, tanger- 
ine, and Satsuma oranges ( Citrus nobilis) in general suffered about 
the same as the common sweet orange. The pomelo and shaddock 
( C. decumana) are much tenderer than the orange. The large pomelo 
trees which were not killed by the first freeze were almost invaria- 
bly split open and killed to the ground by the second. , It is difficult 
to find a tree where any portion of the trunk was saved. In well- 
protected regions, like Palmetto, trees which lost all leaves and many 
branches are in some cases bearing fruit this year. At Bartow the 
trunks of some of the large trees were saved, and in the town of 
Myers, which has good water protection, the trees were practically 
uninjured. East of Myers, and farther away from the river, they 
were injured, but not seriously. At Jensen buds 3 years old were 
killed down. The latitude below which the pomelo escaped serious 


injury can hardly be determined, owing to lack of trees from which to 
judge. It can probably be placed at about 26° 30'. Lemons (C. lim- 
ontum) and limes (0. limetta) throughout the northern and central 
parts of the State were killed to the ground. In the Manatee River 
region the trees, when near the water, were not seriously injured; at 
Myers they suffered but little; at Palm Beach they escaped injury; 
and south of the twenty-sixth parallel they evidently were not severely 
affected. Every citron ( C. medica) 1 and kumquat ( O. japonica) in the 
State, so far as known to the writer, was killed. In the extreme 
southern part of the State they would probably have escaped serious 
injury. The trifoliate orange (C. trifoliata) is the only citrus species 
which escaped injury from the two freezes. 


The experience of last winter has taught some valuable lessons as 
to ways by which the extent of damage caused by severe freezes may 
be lessened. In a few cases where growers had banked their trees 
up some distance around the trunk with earth, covering the union of 
bud and stock, it was found that the buds and a portion of the trunk 
were saved. This shows that it would unquestionably be a wise policy 
to make a practice of banking up the trees every winter in this way, 
say by the middle of December, removing the soil about the 1st of 
March. The expense of doing this would be very slight, probably not 
more that one-half cent per tree. Care should also be taken to have 
the point of union between the stock and bud or graft near the soil. 
On thoroughly drained, porous soils there is no objection to having 
the union slightly below the surface. This would insure the safety 
of the buds in the most severe freezes, especially if the trees were 
slightly banked. On poorly drained soils, where the trees are subject 
to foot rot, sour-orange stocks, budded above the ground, should be 
used. When lemon or pomelo stock is used, the union should by all 
means be placed low, as these stocks are very easily injured by cold. 

Careful observations have shown that the method of training the 
trunk is also important. Trees having a single main trunk were 
much less injured by the cold than those of the same size growing 
under similar conditions but having several trunks. This was quite 
noticeable in protected regions after the first freeze, but of course 
the two freezes in most places were enough to kill almost any trunk. 
This shows clearly that where possible it is very desirable to train 
the trees so that a single main trunk is formed up as high as is con- 
sistent with a well-shaped tree. By following this rule a much larger 
trunk can be saved in case of a severe freeze (figs. 17 and 18). 

Dividing groves into small plats of 4 or 5 acres and leaving wind- 
breaks between and surrounding these has also proved to be a good 
practice. This can easily be done by leaving strips of the original 

■Since this paper was written uninjured citron trees have been seen hy the 
writer at Cocoanut Grove and Elliotts Key. 


forest when clearing the ground. In many hammock groves in which 
palmettoes, magnolias, and other forest trees were allowed to stand 
among the orange trees, the protection they afforded was plainly 
noticeable. "Where the soil is rich enough to allow of this method of 
culture, it should be adopted as a protection against cold and frosts. 

Several groves, in various parts of the State, were protected to some 
extent by fires distributed through them at regular intervals. These 
fires were made by lighting brush piles already in the grove, or by 
distributing and igniting pots of resin prepared for this purpose. 
The trials made of these methods were fairly successful, and indicate 
that much can be gained even from the little protection thus afforded. 
During light freezes in the northern part of the State the fruit has 
often been saved by such fires. 

The well-recognized slight differences in hardiness shown by vari- 
eties of oranges was scarcely perceptible in the last hard freeze. In 

Fio. 17.— A properly trained trunk. 

Pia. 18.— An improperly trained trunk. 

protected regions, like Palmetto and Braidentown, and in the southern 
part of the State, however, some difference could be observed. Harts 
Late is reported by most growers to have withstood the cold better 
than any other variety, and the Jaffa and Majorica were also found 
to be quite hardy. The Mediterranean Sweet proved to be very tender, 
and the Satsuma, whieh was supposed to be very hardy, usually suf- 
fered as much as the tangerine. When on Citrus trifoliate stock, 
however, the Satsuma is reported to have withstood the cold better. 


After it became apparent that most citrus trees were killed baek 
nearly or quite to the ground, the question as to what treatment was 
best under the existing conditions came to be an important one with 


growers. The experience gained in the freeze of 1886 was of little 
value, as at that time the trees were not, as a rule, severely injured, 
and the lessons taught by the freeze of 1835 had been largely for- 
gotten and were too indefinite. The result was that many different 
treatments were followed. 

The time and manner of pruning the frozen trees were puzzling 
questions. From the experience in the freeze of 1835, it was claimed 
by some growers that if the dead top was not cut off the fermenting 
sap would pass down and kill the living portion of the trunk and the 
roots. This belief, however, has been disproved by extensive experi- 
ence since last winter's freezes. As yet hundreds of groves remain 
unpruned, and in no case do the trees show any injurious effect that 
can be traced to this cause. Indeed, many growers claim that the 
protection and slight shade afforded by the old top has been decidedly 
beneficial. The sprouts on such trees have unquestionably grown 
higher than on pruned trees, but are usually slender and unbranched, 
probably due to the effect of the shade. Trees which were pruned 
back into the living wood early in the season have made a more gen- 
eral and bushy growth, and will probably ultimately make the best- 
shaped tops. As a whole, little difference can be seen between early 
pruned trees and those left unpruned. The sprouts in unpruned 
trees have grown so large now (November 1, 1895), however, that 
many will be destroyed or injured by even the most careful pruning. 
Probably the best practice is to prune the trees as soon as the sprouts 
have started and show a healthy growth, cutting the trunk below the 
upper sprouts down to a short distance above where the most healthy, 
vigorous growth appears. Where the trees were killed to the ground, 
many cut them off below the soil and covered the cut surface with 
earth to protect it from the hot rays of the sun. In general this did 
not prove as satisfactory as allowing the tops to remain until the 
sprouts started. Where the trees were slow in sprouting, removing 
the dirt from around the trunk and crown roots, thus exposing them 
to the sun and air, proved efficient in inducing sprouts to start. 

The practice most generally followed throughout the State with 
trees killed below the buds was to allow sprouts to come up from the 
base of the trunks or from the roots and bud them as soon as they 
reached sufficient size. The budding of the sprouts was commenced 
in May and continued throughout the season as the sprouts attained 
sufficient size. The buds put in during May have now, as a rule, 
reached a height of from 4 to 7 feet (fig. 19). 

Many growers have allowed all the sprouts to grow that started, 
intending to dormant bud the largest this fall or bud early next 
spring. In cases where the trees sprouted early, and the necessary 
buds could be secured, this would seem to be a waste of valuable time. 

The practice of crown grafting trees killed to the ground has been 
followed to some extent, and when properly done has proved an 


excellent method. In this case the trees were cut down below the sur- 
face of the soil to where the wood was sound, and the scions inserted. 
The scions should be of sound, mature wood, about 5 inches long, 
sharpened by a long, slanting cut on one side, as shown in fig. 20, a. 
Several grafts should be inserted on each stock to make sure that at 
least one will grow. The grafts should be pushed down between the 
wood and the bark, as shown in fig. 20, b. The best place to insert the 
grafts is in the concave portions of the trunk, as here the bark can be 
pressed out without breaking in order to altow the insertion of the 
scion. The bark will hold the scion firmly against the stock, and in 
this way no wrapping is required. Moist dirt is then thrown up over 

the grafts, allowing simply the 
upper end to protrude. The 
use of grafting wax on scions 
inserted in this way is said to 
be unnecessary. If the trees 
are not cut below the ground it 
would probably be desirable to 
place small strips of waxed 
cloth over the cavity formed 
between the bark and the 

In the use of this method, 
however, many failures have 
been made, evidently due to 
cutting the trees too high. 
Cutting below the soil, even 
though some of the large crown 
roots had to be sacrificed, 
seemed to be the best way. 
The benefit derived from the 
use of this method is that of 
securing in the graft all the 
growth made. The grafts may 
be put in promptly after a 
freeze, or as soon as the bark 
can be made to part for their insertion. The graft heals on before 
growth usually starts and has buds formed ready to push in the 
spring, while if the trees are allowed to start of their own accord 
adventive buds must be formed before the sprouts start. Grafts 
properly inserted started earlier than the sprouts, and as a rule made 
a much larger growth than sprouts which grew from the roots of sim- 
ilar stocks. Cutting back the sprouts to force the buds, in the prac- 
tice of sprout budding, puts the growth back and again weakens the 
roots, already nearly dead. This is prevented by grafting, by which 
means all the growth made is thrown into the grafts which are to 

Fia. 19.— Ruby orange bud, put in May 21, on 
sprout from old sweet-orange trunk. Photo- 
graphed October 25, 1895. 



remain. Crown grafts pnt in immediately after the second freeze 
are as a whole six months in advance of the best growth made by- 
buds put in on sprouts from the roots, and are fully a year in advance 
of many of the groves of the State which have been slow to start 
sprouts and thus could not be budded. Grafts on old and young 
stocks take equally well (fig. 21). 

Nursery stock and small trees killed down by the freeze were 
apparently built up with the least loss of time by cutting them down 
below the soil 1 or 2 inches immediately after the freeze, and cleft 
grafting them by the common method, as illustrated in fig. 22. This 
method was not practiced sufficiently to warrant a positive statement 
that it is the quickest. The almost universal practice was to allow 
sprouts to grow from the roots and to bud them as soon as they had 

Fig. 20.— Method of crown grafting old orange stocks, a, base of scion showing form of slant- 
ing cut; b, method of inserting scion. 

reached suflicient 3ize. The greater handiness of this latter method 
recommends it in this case, where at best little difference can be 

By means of inarching, many growers are throwing the strength of 
several sprouts into the one which is budded. Although tedious, this 
practice is desirable to hasten development. It necessitates rather 
high budding, however, which should be avoided if possible. 


The pineapple industry, which in southern Florida has reached 
considerable importance and probably ranks second among the fruit 
industries of peninsular Florida, was also severely injured by the 
2 A 95 6* 


freezes of last winter. In the northern part of the pineapple section 
all plants, covered and uncovered, were killed to the ground, and as 
far south as Biscayne Bay all uncovered plants were injured. The 

damage to the pine- 
apple industry was 
proportionally less 
than to citrus 
fruits, as at the 
time of the freezes 
the pineapple crop 
had been market- 
ed, and, besides, it 
does not take the 
plants so long to re- 
cover. Moreover, 
the expense and 
delay in budding or 
grafting necessary 
in citrus trees are 
not required in 
these plants. This 
season the crop was 
very small and the 
fruit formed was of 
inferior size and 
quality. During 
the season of 1894 
the Jacksonville, 
St. Augustine and 
Indian River, and 
the Savannah, Florida and Western railroads carried 82,708 whole 
or barrel crates, while in 1895, the season following the freeze, the 
same roads carried only 17,093 crates. From present indications the 
yield of the summer of 1896 will probably be 
as heavy as ever before. The only loss, how- 
ever, even in these exceptionally severe freezes, 
was one crop of fruit and the cultivation for 
one year. 

During both freezes ice was formed in the cen- 
ters of almost all the pineapples as far south as 
Palm Beach, and the leaves were frozen stiff; 
most plants grown outside of sheds were killed 
to the ground as far south as West Palm Beach 
and Myers. A few localities having extensive 
water protection, like Sewalls Point, escaped with but little injury. 
At West Palm Beach plantations bordering on the fresh- water lakes 

Pig. 31.— Ruby orange graft on old sweet-orange stock, put in March 
1 by crown-graft method. Photographed October 33, 1895. (Com- 
pare with fig. 19.) " 

Pic. 23.— Cleft grafting. 


of the Everglades were scarcely injured. A quarter of a mile away 
from the water, however, little benefit could be observed. At Bis- 
cayne Bay (25° 45'), nearly one degree south of West Palm Beach, the 
damage to plants outside of sheds was noticeable, but not serious. 
The crowns of the fruits were injured and the foliage somewhat dam- 
aged, but the development of the fruit was not impaired. Plants 
grown under sheds were severely injured in the northern part of the 
pineapple section, but may be said to have practically escaped injury 
south of the twenty-seventh parallel. 

Old pineapple plants which had fruited and suckered, being mainly 
above the ground, were most seriously injured. The buds of such 
plants were in most cases killed, but suckers and ratoons 1 were 
formed from the base, so that the fields were largely replaced without 
replanting. Plants which had not fruited were much less injured, 
probably owing to the fact that in plants set out the bud is placed 
lower in the soil. Such plants did not lose their buds, and in some 
cases retained a few of the central leaves uninjured. Young plants 
set in July and August of last season (1894) did not lose their buds. 
These have grown rapidly this summer, and from their size now 
(November 1, 1895) it is almost impossible to tell that they were 

Little difference could be observed in the hardiness of the different 
varieties, other than that due to the difference in size. The large 
plants were usually the least injured. Thus the Porto Rico, the 
largest variety grown, was probably the least injured. The Abbaka 
and Spanish probably come next in the order of size and consequent 
injury, but the difference is very slight. 


Guavas (Psidium guajava) were greatly injured by the two freezes, 
being frozen to the ground throughout most of the State. At Myers 
the plants suffered considerably. On the west side of Lake Worth 
they were slightly injured, but on the east side of the lake, at Palm 
Beach, they were generally unharmed. At Biscayne Bay they escaped 
entirely. The Cattley guava (P. cattleyanum), although much hardier 
than the common guava, was almost as badly killed down in these 
severe freezes. At Jensen all plants of this variety were killed to the 
ground, but at Palm Beach they escaped injury. Though one of the 
tenderest fruits grown, the guava recovers so rapidly from injury 
that it has been quite generally planted as far north as 29°. All 
guavas frozen down have sprouted abundantly from the base and 
have made a vigorous growth this summer (1895). They will bear a 
fair crop next year, the second season after freezing down. 

The cocoanut palm (Cocos nucifera), which is grown quite exten- 
sively from Eden south, on the east coast of Florida, and at Myers, on 

1 Suckers starting from the old stem from below the soil. 


the west coast, suffered severely in the northern parts of these locali- 
ties. At Eden, Palm Beach, and Myers all the leaves were killed. 
On most of the trees, however, the buds remained uninjured, so that 
new leaves were thrown out in the spring and the majority of the 
plants are rapidly recovering from the damage done. At Palm Beach 
the buds of about 5 per cent of the plants were killed, so that they 
have not started (see PL III). Like many other monocotyledonous 
plants, if the apical bud of the cocoanut palm is killed the trunk will 
die, as it is not able to form a new bud. At Biscayne Bay even the 
leaves were practically uninjured. 

The mango (Mangifera indica), which is quite extensively grown 
in the southern part of the State, was severely injured as far south 
as Palm Beach and Myers. Here the plants lost most of their 
leaves and the branches were killed back from 2 to 4 feet. At Eden, 
Manatee, and St. Petersburg large trees were killed to the ground. 
The trees, however, have shown great vigor in recovering, sprouting 
readily from the base of the trunk or from large uninjured limbs. 

The banana (Musa), sapodilla (Achras sapota), sour sop (Anona 
muricata), sweet sop (A. squamosa), cherimoya, or Jamaica apple 
(A. cherimolia), Spanish lime (Melicocca bijuga), Otaheite gooseberry 
(Cicca disticha), and other strictly tropical fruits were killed almost 
to the ground at all places in the State other than the extreme south- 
ern portions. 


The native plants of Florida were in general but slightly injured. 
The plants which suffered severely were principally those of tropical 
origin, which have spread into southern Florida from the West Indies 
and Bahamas and thence northward as far as thermal conditions 
permit. These plants are limited principally to the keys and ham- 
mock islands along the coast. 

The mangrove (RTiizopTiora mangle), which forms dense thickets on 
the tide-washed islands and on the shore as far north as Ormond 
(29° 22'), was killed down as far south as Lake "Worth, except in 
cases where the plants grew on the south side of large bodies of 
water. At Myers, however, trees bordering on the south side of the 
Caloosahatchee River were killed. As the mangrove is one of the 
most valuable honey plants in Florida, its destruction is a great loss 
to bee keepers. The sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera) also suffered 
severely, large trees being frozen down at Manatee. At Palm Beach, 
however, they were only slightly injured. The satin leaf (Chryso- 
phyllum oliviforme), probably having the most beautiful foliage of 
any native tree of Florida, was frozen down about Rockledge, its 
northern limit, and was seriously injured as far south as Palm Beach. 
Rubber or wild fig trees (Ficus pedunculata and F. brevif cilia), which 
are abundant in the island and coast hammocks as far north as 

Cogoanut Grove near Palm Beach, Florida, showing effects of Freeze. 


Rockledge, were considerably frozen back as far south as Palm Beach 
and Myers. The gumbo-limbo {Bur sera gummifera Jacq.) and satin 
wood (Xanthoxylum pterota) were also among the seriously injured 
plants. Water lettuce (Pistia spathulata) and water hyacinth (Eich- 
ornia speciosa), which are very abundant in many ponds and sluggish 
streams, were frozen down to the water level. 

Considering the severity of the freezes of last winter, it is indeed 
remarkable how slightly the majority of the native plants were injured. 
The plants of Northern origin growing in the high pine lands, flat 
woods, scrubs, and hammocks of the interior were almost all unharmed. 


(1) The first freeze, December 27-29, 1894, caused a loss of some 
3,000,000 boxes of oranges and lemons, killed many young citrus 
trees, and seriously injured old trees. Guavas, pineapples, and many 
tropical fruit trees were frozen down throughout the northern and 
central portions of the State. 

(2) At the time of the second freeze, which culminated on February 
8, 1895, the citrus trees which were not killed by the first freeze had 
started to grow vigorously. The result was that trees of all varieties 
and sizes were killed to the ground throughout the State, except in 
the extreme south and in a few protected localities. 

(3) The frozen oranges and pomeloes were eaten in great numbers 
and large quantities were also shipped to Northern markets, and the 
fact that no injury resulted from the unprecedented consumption 
disproves the claims of many physicians and health authorities that 
such frozen fruit is unhealthful. In the membranes between the seg- 
ments of frozen oranges white specks were so invariably present as to 
be satisfactory evidence of freezing. 

(4) Where orange and other citrus trees had been banked with 
' earth around the base before the freezes, a portion of the trunk was 

saved. This practice is thought very desirable in order to protect 
the point of union in trees budded or grafted near the ground. Bud- 
ding or grafting trees near the ground or below it is a good preventive 
against loss by cold, and should be invariably followed, except on 
low, poorly drained soils, which are subject to foot rot. . When the 
point of union is placed below the soil the bud is generally safe from 
injury, even in the most severe freezes, and if near the ground it can 
easily be protected by covering with earth. 

(5) Citrus trees having a single main trunk were found to endure 
the cold much better than trees of the same size having several 
trunks, and therefore wherever possible trees should be trained so as 
to form but one trunk as high up as would be consistent with a well- 
shaped tree. Wind-breaks and forest trees scattered among the fruit 
trees proved beneficial. Protection of this kind can be provided for 
when clearing the ground, by leaving strips of the original forest 


around plats of, say, 4 or 5 acres, and a tree here and there through the 
plats. Fires scattered through the groves were also markedly bene- 
ficial. Losses from freezing can also be overcome to a slight extent by 
planting hardy varieties, as some kinds withstand low temperatures 
better than others. 

(6) Little difference was apparent in frozen trees whether pruned 
soon after the freeze or left unpruned. Apparently no injuri- 
ous effects resulted from leaving the frozen tops attached, but it is 
thought that in general early pruning gave rather the best results. 
Probably the best time to prune the trees is when the sprouts have 
started and show a healthy growth. The trees should be cut below 
the upper sprouts down to a short distance above where the most 
healthy and vigorous growth appears. In restoring orange and lemon 
groves frozen to the ground, the method of cutting the trees off below 
the soil and crown grafting has proved much better and quicker than 
waiting for sprouts to grow from the base and budding them when 
they had reached sufficient size. What appeared to be the quickest 
way to build up nursery stock and small trees killed down by the 
freeze was by immediately cutting them 1 or 2 inches below the soil 
and cleft grafting them. 

(7) Pineapples were injured as far south as Biscayne Bay. Plants 
which were grown under sheds were not seriously injured south of 
the twenty-seventh parallel. The pineapple plants will entirely 
recover from the injuries of the freezes in one year. 

(8) Strictly tropical fruits and plants were badly injured in all 
places in the State except in the extreme southern part, that is, at 
Biscayne Bay and on the keys. The native vegetation, particularly 
plants of Northern origin, was but slightly injured. 

(9) Large bodies of water afforded great protection to citrus trees 
growing in their vicinity. Except in the southern part of the State 
the first freeze killed the foliage on all trees outside of those growing 
on the south side of large lakes, where the results of the tempering 
influence was perceptible for half a mile from the water. On Terra- 
ceia Island, in Tampa Bay, even lemons escaped unhurt, and orange 
groves bordering on the mainland of this bay were almost entirely 
unharmed. The beneficial influence of this large body of water 
extended 2 miles. Pineapples, guavas, etc., grown in regions having 
extensive water protection escaped much of the damage sustained by 
such fruits when grown in the same latitude but away from any 
body of water. 


By A. J. PlETBES, 
Assistant, Division of Botany, U. 8. Department of Agriculture. 


The importance of seed testing is recognized not only by profes- 
sional seedsmen, but also by intelligent farmers. The necessity for 
testing seed arises from the fact that not every seed contains a living 
germ. The absence of a living germ makes the seed useless for the 
reproduction of its kind. To find out what proportion of the seeds 
in a sample contains germs capable of growth is therefore the object 
of all seed testing. 

Good seed is essential to successful agriculture. No matter how 
well the farmer prepares his land; no matter how much time, labor, 
and money he spends on it, if much or all of his seed fails to "come 
up " he will either have a poor crop or will be obliged to reseed, thus 
losing time and labor. Many causes may contribute to prevent him 
from getting a good stand, but if he can eliminate any one of these 
he is by so much the gainer. Poor seed is a great cause of poor 

The farmer and the gardener get seed from one of two sources — 
they either grow it themselves or buy it. If the former, there is less 
danger of its being poor. The chief source of poor seed is careless 
handling in harvesting and storing. If seed gets too damp, mold 
will destroy much, or the seed will begin to sprout, then dry out, and 
the germ will be killed. If seed is bought, the chance of getting a 
poor quality increases many fold. If all seed was bought from relia- 
ble dealers, there would be far less cause for complaint, but farmers 
too often buy seed where they can get it the cheapest. They pay 
their money for trash that is either full of harmful weed seeds or has 
a liberal admixture of old and dead seeds. 

Whenever large quantities of seed are purchased, they should be 
tested for purity and germination. The table on the following page 
gives the result of a few tests out of the many that were made in 
the Department seed laboratory last year of seeds bought from sup- 
posed reliable seedsmen. 



The old adage that a dollar saved is a dollar earned will apply to 
the purchase of seeds. It is an easy matter to waste a dollar on seeds, 
and when profits depend upon cutting down useless expenditure, the 
use of inferior seed can not be too strongly condemned. 

Germination tests of seeds. 

Kind of seed. 

Bean, Burpee's bush lima 

Bean, Dwarf, pink-eyed wax 

Cabbage, Drumhead 

Cabbage, Luxembourg 

Carrot, Mastodon 

Clover, scarlet 


Corn, Egyptian sweet 

Corn salad 

Cucumber, White wonder 

Eggplant, New York improved thornless 
Grass, Kentucky blue 

Orchard ... 

Texas blue 

Lettuce, Golden ball 

Muskmelon, Shum way's giant 

Muskmelon, Surprise 

Onion, Eai-ly round white Dutch 

Oats, Scotch white 

Parsley, Beauty of the Parterre 

Pea, Dr. McLean 

Pepper, Cranberry : 

Pumpkin, Winter luxury 

Radish, Chartier 

Rape, Dwarf Essex 

Salsify, Sandwich Islands 

Spinach, Mett's crumpled leaf 

Tobacco, White burley 

Tomato, Lorillard 

Watermelon, Cole's early , 

Per cent of 
tion was— 

Per cent 
of germi- 





















































• 43.5 







The standard of germination in oats is 95. This places the normal 
loss from nonviable seeds at one-twentieth part. In the sample of 
oats reported in the table the loss was slightly more than one-fifth. 
There was four times as much waste in this sample as there should 
have been. The White Dutch onion seed germinated 58.5 per cent. 
The loss in this case was 1 pound in every 2|, while the normal waste 
should have been less than 1 pound in 7. The loss on Egyptian sweet 
corn reached 1^ pecks in 5. The normal loss should not exceed 1 peck 
in 13. 

A farmer sowing a meadow to Kentucky blue grass and buying such 
seed as that reported in the table would pay for 9 bushels of dead 
seed out of every 10 bushels purchased. There is always a great deal 


of loss in this as in most grass seeds, but it should not exceed 5 bush- 
els in 10. Here is a clear loss of 4 bushels out of every 10 bought, 
which, at $1.65 per bushel, is worth considering. The normal waste 
in orchard grass seed is 1 bushel in 5, but the sample tested contained 
almost 3% bushels of worthless seed out of 5. At present orchard 
grass brings about $2 per bushel. This makes a net loss of about $7 
on a purchase of 5 bushels of seed. It is unnecessary to give other 
examples of the loss which farmers suffer by purchasing poor seed. 
The table affords ample illustration. 


Many seedsmen and a few farmers test their seeds. The method 
generally followed is to throw a handful of seed into a box full of 
earth, and decide by the way it comes up whether the seed is good. 
This is better than no testing at all, but it is impossible to get accu- 
rate results in this manner if the seeds used ai'e not counted. 

Another method is to make a shallow trench in sand, scatter in the 
seeds as thickly as is recommended for the variety, and wet with warm 
water. The seeds germinate rapidly, and the merit of the sample is 
judged by the stand in the row. When the seeds are not counted, no 
accuracy is possible. Besides, it is well known that the amount of 
seed thought necessary per running foot of drill, or per acre, is from 
two to four times as much as would be required if the seeds used had 
a high vitality. 

Some people think that if seeds are thrown into water the good ones 
will sink and the dead seeds will float, but this notion is not sup- 
ported by facts. When seeds float it is often because an air bubble 
has become attached to them or because they have not become wet 
all over the surface. Several experiments were made to test the 
germination of seeds that sink and those that float. Wheat was 
used in one set of experiments, and the average of all tests showed a 
germination of 68.3 per cent for the sunken seeds and 72 per cent for 
those that floated. In another set of experiments lentil was used, and 
it was found that 75.4 per cent of the sunken seeds and 86.7 per cent 
of those that floated germinated. 

The germination of seeds depends on a proper supply of heat and 
moisture. For accuracy in testing, darkness is also essential. Seeds 
will germinate through a considerable range of temperatures, but 
the number of germinating seeds decreases as we depart from the 
optimum, or most favorable, temperature. If seeds are subjected to 
temperatures higher or lower than the optimum, germination will 
proceed more slowly, and when either extreme is passed it will cease. 
All seeds do not have the same temperature limit. Seeds of tropical 
plants need more heat to germinate than those from plants growing in 
northern latitudes or on high altitudes. Certain seeds have been 
known to germinate upon ice. Nobbe records an observation by 


Uloth on the root of a maple seedling which penetrated a short dis- 
tance into solid ice. Wheat has been known to germinate at the 
freezing point. 

The following table, showing the effects of given temperatures upon 
the germination of seeds, is taken from Nobbe's Handbuch der Samen- 
kunde. The column under a indicates the number of seeds germi- 
nated ; that under b shows the number of hours required to germinate 
that number under the fixed temperature. 













. 44° C. 
(111° F.). 



































Cabbage, early, small 

Cabbage, late, large 



Clover, red 




Lucern _ 










Radish, long, white- 


Eye grass, English 








The best temperature for the germination of most seeds is shown 
to be 25° C. (77° F.), while for a few this optimum is 31° C. (88° F.) 
and 37.5° C. (100° F.). But seeds germinating under natural condi- 
tions seldom have the advantage of this optimum temperature. 

In testing seeds, therefore, since it is necessary to get as near the 
natural conditions as possible, the temperature should be kept at 
between 18° and 20° C. (64° and 68° F.). This has been found to be 
the normal temperature for germination. Usually the heat of an 
ordinary living room will be sufficient for home testing, but if the 
temperature is likely to fall very low during the night it is better to 
provide a little heat during that time. More harm will result from 
a considerable decrease of temperature than from a slight increase. 
In the European seed-control stations seeds are tested at a constant 
temperature of 18° to 20° C. (64° to 68° F.). For grass seeds the 
temperature is forced up to 30° C. (86° F. ) during six hours of the 
twenty-four, this variation in the heat being found advantageous. 


Moisture is as important as temperature. Before a seed can sprout 
it must absorb water and swell. Though the swelling of a seed is a 
necessary preliminary, it is not always followed by germination, for 
the absorption of water is a purely mechanical process and does not 
imply vitality in the seed. The entrance of water into the seed is 
dependent upon the structure of the seed coats. When these are 
hard and impervious, as is often the case in leguminous seeds and in 
nuts, water gains admission slowly and germination is retarded. In 
cereals and in most garden seeds the seed coats are easily penetrated 
by water, the seeds swell rapidly, and germination is prompt. Experi- 
ments have proved that seeds will absorb moisture and swell in a 
damp atmosphere, but that for germination, contact with water is 
necessary. An atmosphere saturated with water vapor is not suffi- 
cient to induce germination. Flaxseed kept in a saturated atmos- 
phere for nine days, and seed of kohl-rabi kept under the same 
conditions for twenty-two days, did not germinate (Nobbe, Handbuch 
der Samenkunde). Too much water is equally injurious. As a gen- 
eral rule, seeds will not germinate well when immersed in water. 
It is necessary to have the seeds in contact with some medium from 
which they can obtain an abundant supply without allowing water 
to stand around them. 

Light exerts a harmful influence upon germination. Experiments 
have shown that seeds placed under colored glass did not germinate 
as rapidly as those which were in complete darkness. Even more 
important than the exclusion of light is the free access of air and 
the escape of the noxious gases generated by germinating seeds. 
When germination has commenced, carbonic acid gas is given off, 
which must be allowed to escape, or growth will be checked. 


Selecting the sample to be tested is a matter of great importance. 
It must be a fair sample, including both good and bad seeds. If the 
quantity to be tested is considerable, small amounts should be taken 
from different parts of the mass. These small samples, thoroughly 
mixed, form the larger sample out of which the proper number of 
seeds is to be counted. In case the quantity of seed is small, say 
one-half pound of clover seed, pour the seed from the package into 
a pan, taking a small spoonful occasionally from the stream. From 
the quantity thus secured a sample for testing is taken. The number 
of seeds used in testing depends upon the size of the seed and upon 
the quantity at disposal. 

If the sample is large enough, 100 seeds of the larger kinds and 200 
to 400 of the smaller seeds are taken. The increased number is a 
check upon error in counting small seeds. In counting out the seeds 
a fair number of small and immature ones should be selected as well 
as the large and plump ones. There is reason to suspect that in some 


tests only fine-looking seeds are used. These would, of course, give 
a higher percentage of germination than could he sustained by the 
entire sample. In selecting grass seeds for testing, care must be taken 
to use only such as contain a grain. In some kinds of grass seeds 
there are many empty glumes which it is difficult to distinguish from 
those containing a grain. A simple way to separate them is to wet 
the seed, spread it out on a plate of glass, and hold the plate up to 
the light. The empty chaff will appear translucent, while the good 
seed will be opaque. 


Although for the results usually desired in home seed testing it is 
not absolutely necessary to keep a record, yet such a record, if well 
made, will be found to contain much valuable information. A few 
items will always need to be recorded, in any event, such as the date 
of beginning the test, the name of the variety, the number of seeds, 
and the number of germinated seeds removed from day to day. It is 
dangerous to trust anything to memory. Mistakes are sure to occur, 
and the test will then be useless. 


The length of time a test should continue depends upon the seed. 
In the seed-control stations ten days has been accepted as the proper 
time for most seeds, but a few require a longer period, namely: 


Esparsette, serradella, beet-seed balls, rye grasses, timothy, carrots 14 

Grasses, except meadow and rye grasses, and timothy 21 

Meadow grasses (Poa) , conif erae (except white pine) , birches, alders, acorns, 

beeches, and hornbeams _ _ - 28 

White pine and stone fruits - 42 

The seeds should be examined each day, and those that have ger- 
minated should be removed and the number recorded. A seed is con- 
sidered as germinated as soon as the root breaks through the seed 

Under favorable conditions more than one-half of the seeds in a 
good sample will germinate in a much shorter time than that given 
above. The rapidity with which the seeds germinate is some indica- 
tion of the vigor of the embryo, and determines the germinative 

The number of days in which more than one-half of the seeds in a 
good sample should germinate has been fixed as follows : 


Cereals, clovers, peas, vetches, flat peas, flax, dodder, poppy, cabbage, radish, 
spur ry , chicory _ _ - - _ - 3 

Squashes and pumpkins, cucumbers, beans, spinach, lupine, buckwheat, bur- 
net. -. 4 

Beet, timothy, serradella, bird's-f oot clover, rye grasses, meadow foxtail, reed 
grass 5 



Redtop, hair grass, chervil, carrots, fennel, esparsette, sorghum 6 

Spruce, fox-tail grass, sweet vernal grass, canary grass, Deschampsia, Trise- 

tum, Poa, crested dog's tail, velvet grass, red and sheep's fescue - 7 

Fir, pines (except white pine), maple 10 

White pine 1 - 14 

In nearly every test, especially of leguminous seeds, there will be 
some that remain hard. These can not be regarded as dead seeds, 
because their condition is due to the hardness of the seed coats. The 
number of such seeds should be recorded. 


In testing beet-seed balls special care is necessary in recording the 
number of germinated seeds. The balls must be left in the test 

Fio. 23.— Simple germinating apparatus. .4, closed; B, open. 

during the entire period of fourteen days, but whenever a seed has 
sprouted it must be cut out with a sharp knife; or the root may be 
allowed to grow two or three days and then broken off and counted. 
The roots will either not grow out again, or, if they do, can not be 
mistaken for fresh ones. Either operation is very simple, and can be 
done by any one without the least trouble. The removal of the ger- 
minated seed or of the young roots is the only sure way of making an 
accurate test of the germination of beet-seed balls. One hundred 
seed balls should produce at least 150 seedlings. 

'Yearbook, U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1894, p. 399. 



The apparatus used for home seed testing should be as simple as is 
consistent with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Any method that 
complies with the conditions given above — a proper amount of heat, 
moisture, air, and the exclusion of light — will give good results. For- 
tunately, these conditions are so easily fulfilled that the most inex- 
pensive apparatus will answer. Perhaps the simplest and at the 
same time the most satisfactory is the following: 

Take two plates and place in one of them a folded cloth ; wool or 
flannel is preferable, since it remains moist for a long time, but any 
cloth will do. The cloth should be free from dyes that will come out 
in water, since they may contain chemicals that would be injurious 

Pig. 24.— Homemade germinating apparatus. A, complete ; B, section. 

to the seed. Wet the cloth, pressing out the surplus water, leaving 
it very damp, but not soaked. Place the seeds between the folds of 
cloth, put in the number of the record, marked in pencil on a piece 
of paper, with date and number of seeds, and cover with the second 
plate, inverted. Plenty of air will get in between the plates, and the 
upper one will prevent too rapid evaporation of moisture. If the 
tests are to be made during the winter, keep the apparatus in the living 
room, as the heat of such a* room will be sufficient for most seeds. 
During the night the seeds should be put in a warm place. Instead 
of the cloth, old newspapers, well soaked, can be used. These need 
to bQ moistened more frequently, however. (See fig. 23.) 

Another apparatus that will give good results, especially for seeds 
not larger than wheat, is the one shown in fig. 24. Here the seeds 
are placed free on the bottom of a porous saucer and the latter put 
inside of a tin basin. The basin should have at least two coats of 



mineral paint to prevent rusting. Water is poured into the basin up to 
about one-half the height of the saucer. The water will soak through 
the saucer and supply the seeds. For larger seeds this method is 
slow, since the seeds do not get water rapidly enough. 1 

A very simple apparatus is a glass or porcelain dish or tin pan 
with a little water in the bottom, and a handful of cotton batting, 
soaked, and placed in the dish. Put the seeds on the cotton and 
cover the dish with a plate of glass. 

If it is desired to test a number of samples in the same apparatus, 
a convenient form is the following: Take a large dripping pan or an 
ordinary frying pan. Paint it to prevent rusting. Put four sup- 
ports in the pan (inverted porous saucers are good) and place a tin 
or wire frame upon them, as shown in fig. 25. The seeds are laid 
between folds of blotting paper or cloth, which are then placed on the 
frame. A flap of paper or cloth hangs down into the water, which 
half fills the tray and keeps the folds moist. 

Fio. 25.— Apparatus for germinating several varieties at one time. 

If glass can be had to put over the pan, evaporation will not bo so 
rapid ; otherwise the water will need replenishing frequently. 

The tin or wire tray need not be expensive, and can be replaced by 
anything the operator may have. It is only necessary that a flap 
should dip into the water to provide moisture. 

In testing seed some trouble will be experienced from the growth 
of mold. If the cloths and dishes are used many times, this trouble 
will become worse unless the spores of the fungi are killed. This 
can easily be done by boiling all cloths and washing the dishes in 
boiling water after each test. 

In testing seeds it is necessary that there should be a standard of 
germination with which the germination of the sample can be com- 
pared. If the percentage of germination falls far below the standard, 
the seed is not fit for use, and its value decreases for every per cent 

1 An improvement on the above is described in the Yearbook of 1894, p. 405. 
Here folds of blotting paper or flannel cloth are placed in the porous saucer and 
the seeds laid between the folds. 


of difference between its germination and that required by the 

The following table is offered provisionally, having been made up 
from original data and the most reliable outside sources. A great 
deal of experimenting will be necessary before a permanent table of 
germination standards is offered : 

Table of germination standards. 










Brussels sprouts 



Beans, bush. 

Beans, lima 






Corn, field 

Corn, sweet 








KoW-rabi _. 

Lettuce • 




















seeds— continued. 


Lupin, yellow 


Melon, musk 

Melon, water 














Squash, winter 

Squash, summer 


Tomato _ 



seeds— continued. 



gbasses and forage 





Clover, red 

Clover, white 

Clover, alsike 

Clover, scarlet 


Fowl meadow 


Kentucky blue 

Meadow fescue 


Texas blue 









Nothing has been said in this article about testing seeds for purity. 
This is an important matter, but could not be properly treated in a 
few pages. Garden and flower seeds ought always to be nearly pure, 
but those of grasses and forage plants, especially clovers, frequently 
contain a considerable amount of foreign matter. The seeds of harm- 
ful weeds are often found in quantity in clover seed. Farmers 
should be on their guard against impure seeds. 


By Gilbert H. Hicks, 
Assistant, Division of Botany, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 


There are over 200 species of plants whose seeds are used in making 
oil for illumination, medicine, food, soap, and lubricating machinery. 
A large proportion of these plants are natives of tropical regions, 
many of which will not thrive in colder climates. On the other hand, 
there are many plants which could be profitably grown in the United 
States for the oil contained in their seeds. A few such plants are 
now cultivated in this country, principally, however, for 6ther pur- 
poses than the use of their seeds for oil, as in the well-known cases 
of cotton, peanuts, etc. 

The object of this article is to collate from reliable sources infor- 
mation concerning some plants which now are or which might be 
grown with profit for oil, thus developing a new line of agricultural 
activity which may in many cases prove profitable. 

Oils are divided. into three classes: Fatty oils, mineral oils (such as 
kerosene, benzine, etc.), and volatile, or essential, oils (oil of turpen- 
tine, camphor, etc.). Oils of the first group are subdivided into those 
of vegetable and those of animal origin. Of the former, seeds furnish 
the main supply, although no part of the plant seems to be entirely 
wanting in fat. That found in the organs of vegetation, however, is 
more wax-like. The oily matter in seeds is stored up as food to be 
used by the young plant during the early stages of germination, 
before it is able to absorb food materials for itself from the earth and 
air. All seeds store up oil or starch for this purpose. The amount 
of fat in plants is said to be in nearly an inverse ratio to the amount 
of starch and sugar which they contain, ranging from 67 per cent in 
the brazil nut to only 1 per cent in barley. 

Oil is obtained from seeds by first crushing and then pressing them 
in cloth bags, or by boiling them in water and skimming off the oil 
which rises to the surface, or by using some chemical solvent, such 
as carbon disulphide, which extracts the oil. The first method is that 
generally employed, although the chemical process is coming into 
use to a large extent. Seeds are either pressed cold in mills con- 
structed especially for that purpose, or heat is used to coagulate 
any albumen present and to render the oil more liquid. In many 



instances both cold and warm pressure are used, but in the case of 
the best medicinal or table oils no heat is employed. The method 
of using solvents commonly yields a greater amount of oil than does 
pressure, but is open to objections. The crude oils obtained by pres- 
sure or extraction are refined by filtering and the use of chemicals. 

The residue of the seeds after the oil is extracted is called "oil 
cake," and is often of great value as a stock food or fertilizer. It is 
composed of the woody fiber and mineral matter which the seed con- 
tained, a small per cent of unextracted oil, and, of more value than 
all else, the proteid or nitrogenous constituents of the seed. This 
gives it especial value as food, while the high per cent of phosphoric 
acid and potash in addition to nitrogen makes it a most valuable 
fertilizer. The exportation of cotton-seed cake from the United 
States in 1894 was over 600,000,000 pounds, worth over $7,000,000, 
while that of flaxseed amounted to nearly 128,000,000 pounds, valued 
at $1,700,000. Three-fourths of this material went to Great Britain. 


Fig. 26.— Cotton (Gossypium barbadense). o, seed, delinted, magnified 3 times; 6, seed with coma 
attached; c, transverse section, showing the crumpled embryo filling the seed coats. 


The cotton plant (various species of Gossypium) has been culti- 
vated from time immemorial, principally for the fiber attached to the 
seeds. It occurs in Asia, Africa, and tropical America, but is also 
grown in some parts of Europe, and, as is well known, cotton fiber 
forms one of the principal products of the Southern States of this 

The black seeds (fig. 26) are almost hidden by a tuft of white fiber 
which covers their surface. They are irregularly egg-shaped, from 6 
to 9 mm. 3 long and 4 to 5 mm. broad. The thick seed coat is filled 

1 See Farmers' Bulletin No. 36, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 
* For metric system, see Appendix. Consult index. 


with the coiled embryo, which is sprinkled with brownish resin glands 
easily seen with the naked eye. The cells composing the embryo are 
filled with drops of fat and other matter. The seeds contain from 15 
to 20 per cent of oil, which for hundreds of years was wasted, for the 
seeds proper were thrown away after stripping off the fiber. It is 
only within the present century that they were considered of any 
value except for planting. 

In 1826 a Virginian was led to experiment with cotton seed. He 
made a small machine with which he was able to express a dark- 
red oil that gave a fair light when burned in an ordinary lamp. In 
the same year, it is reported, an oil mill was constructed at Columbia, 
S. C, which expressed a good quality of oil from cotton seed. From 
this beginning there has arisen a great industry, and although cotton 
is still grown mainly for the fiber, the seeds are now carefully saved 
for the oil. Great difficulties were experienced at first in extracting 
all of the oil contained in the seeds, since in the process of delinting 
a considerable amount of fiber remained attached to the seed coat, 
and this greedily absorbed a large per cent of the oil. Machines have 
been invented, however, for removing almost all the lint as well as 
the hulls themselves. In Europe the seeds are first pressed cold and 
then warm, but in America warm pressure is generally used from the 
first. The crude oil is a thick fluid, of a dirty brown color. By 
refining it becomes straw colored or nearly colorless. 

Estimating 2 pounds of seed for every pound of ginned cotton, 
nearly 4,000,000 tons of seed were produced in the United States in 
1894-95. Deducting about one-third of this, required for sowing, 
there would remain over 2,500,000 tons of seed. Of this amount 
about 1,500,000 tons were worked at the oil mills, each ton producing 
45 gallons of crude cotton-seed oil and 800 pounds of cotton-seed 
cake. This estimate gives the immense total of 60,000,000 gallons of 
oil and 600,000 tons of oil cake produced in the United States in a 
single year. At 30 cents a gallon, this crude oil was worth $18,000,000, 
while the oil cake exceeds $12,000,000 in value. Of this annual pro- 
duction of oil about 9,000,000 gallons are used in making "compound 
lard," while the rest is either exported or mixed with drying oils or 
used in the manufacture of soap. Cotton-seed oil is also largely used 
for adulterating olive, lard, sperm, and other oils. 

During the last two years the exportations of cotton-seed oil from this 
country have been as follows: In 1892-93, 9,462,074 gallons, valued 
at $3,927,556; in 1893-94, 14,953,309 gallons, valued at $6,008,405. 
The principal European country extracting oil from cotton seed is 
England, the seed being obtained mainly from Egypt, from which 
country the United Kingdom imported, in 1894, 314,756 tons. 

Cotton-seed meal makes an excellent fertilizer. In exchanging 
with farmers, oil mills give 1 ton of meal for 2\ to 2£ tons of seed. 
The hulls are used for fuel, paper, or feeding like hay. In Russia 
oil cake is used to some extent for stock food. In America the cake 


(ground to meal) is used extensively and with good results as food 
for cattle and sheep, but has frequently been found poisonous to pigs 
and calves, especially when it has undergone fermentation. The 
meal is not infrequently used to adulterate mustard. The prin- 
cipal States manufacturing cotton-seed oil are Tennessee, Mississippi, 
Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. 

Further data concerning cotton seed may be found in Farmers' 
Bulletin No. 36, published by this Department. 


Next in importance to the cotton seed for oil purposes in the United 
States is that of the common flax {Linum usitatissimum) , which, like 
the cotton plant, originated in the far East and has been known since 
the times of Moses and Homer. Flax is an annual, and at present is 
cultivated in nearly every country of the globe, especially in Russia 

and India. The seeds (fig. 27) are flattened 
a b elliptical oval, pointed at the lower end, 

smooth, shining, and of different shades of 
brown. They are 3 to 4 mm. long, 2 to 3 
mm. wide, and about one-half mm. thick. 
They are produced in a 10-seeded globular 
capsule, which either remains closed at ma- 
turity or in some forms opens suddenly, 
scattering the seeds. Unlike cotton, flax- 
seed contains beneath the shell a hard layer 
Fl °- ».^ommon flax < Ximm of endosperm surrounding the embrvo. 

usitatissimum). a, seed, mag- x J 

nified 6 times ; &, longitudinal This layer, however, is comparatively thin, 
section, showing embryo im- and tte oil is d er i v ed principally from the 

bedded in the endosperm. * , 

fleshy, oval, or narrowly heart-shaped seed 
leaves (cotyledons) which it incloses. The outer layers of the seed 
coat become transformed into a mucilage when moistened with water, 
which gives the seeds their principal medicinal value. 

The seeds contain 30 to 35 per cent of oil, 20 to 28 per cent of which 
is obtained by pressure or extraction. Cold pressure yields 20 to 21 
per cent, and the oil thus obtained is used in Russia and Poland as a 
substitute for lard and butter in cooking. It is of a pale yellow color, 
and has a rather pleasant taste and smell. The warm-pressed seeds 
give 27 to 28 per cent of an amber-colored oil which has a stronger 
and somewhat acrid taste. The oil from fresh flaxseed is sticky and 
turbid; hence, as a rule, seeds are pressed when from 2 to 6 months 
old. Linseed oil is rather thickly fluid, rapidly absorbing oxygen, and 
becoming thicker, then dry and hard, when exposed to the air. It 
therefore belongs to the group of drying oils, of which it is the most 
important. It is used in large quantities for making paints, varnishes, 
printer's ink, and oilcloth, and to some extent for illumination and 
in the manufacture of soaps. 


The cake left after the oil is removed is extensively used as a cattle 
food in countries where flax is grown. It contains large amounts of 
phosphoric acid (41.98 per cent), potash (25.24 per cent), and magne- 
sia (14.40 per cent), in addition to its high percentage of nitrogen; 
hence makes a very valuable fertilizer. In 1894 the United States 
exported over 127,000,000 pounds of flaxseed cake, valued at more 
than $1,700,000. According to Sadtler, three-fourths of this went to 
Great Britain. 

The supply of flaxseed comes from nearly all countries, principally 
from India and Russia. According to the United States consular 
reports, European Russia, in 1890, had 3,780,000 acres sown in flax, 
and the total crop of seed amounted to 1,800,000,000 pounds, or about 
21,000,000 bushels. 

The flaxseed crop of the United States has decreased from 18,000,000 
bushels, in 1891, to 7,000,000 bushels, in 1894. Our seed is exported to 
Canada and Europe in considerable quantities for crushing purposes, 
not being considered good enough for sowing. American seed is 
worth about $40 a ton in Germany, while Russian seed brings $55 to 
$60 a ton. There is a great difference in the amount of oil contained 
in flaxseed of different origins. Generally speaking, the colder the 
climate where flax will thrive the better quality of oil it produces, 
thoiigh this depends fully as much on the fertility of the soil and care 
taken in cultivation. The plant does best in a rather moist, warm 
climate, though it will stand much drier situations when raised for 
seed alone. 

In some countries flax is raised for both seed and fiber, a practice 
which has its advantages and is approved by the Department. How- 
ever, the seed is produced to some extent at the expense of the rest 
of the plant; hence it is claimed by eminent European authorities 
that the best oil seed is yielded when flax is cultivated for that pur- 
pose alone. Besides, when both crops are attempted, the flax is har- 
vested before the seed has attained the degree of ripeness which is 
said to be necessary to insure a full content of oil. In flax-growing 
centers where the processes of manufacture are carried on, the pro- 
duction of fiber is much more profitable than that of the seed. In 
this country up to the present time flax has been grown mainly for 
the seed. 

Flax requires a deep, rich, loamy soil, well manured and thoroughly 
cultivated. The seed best adapted to produce a good oil crop in our 
country comes from Russia. The Baltic region of northern Europe 
also produces an excellent quality of seed. Flaxseed deteriorates 
rapidly from year to year, even when careful selection has been prac- 
ticed; hence constant attention must be paid to this subject. Well- 
ripened seed from the previous season is recommended for sowing. 
There is no doubt that in time, with proper methods of selection 
and cultivation, the United States, especially the northern portion, 


could, produce as good seed, both for sowing and oil, as any part of 

The method of cultivation of flax is somewhat different when it is 
raised for seed from that when fiber is desired. In the former case it 
is a common American practice to sow 30 to 45 pounds of seed per 
acre early in the spring upon turned sod of virgin soil without special 
fertilizing. In Europe the land is cultivated at least 8 inches deep 
and well fertilized with stable or liquid manure or commercial ferti- 
lizers. Nothing better can be used for this purpose than flaxseed cake. 

The seeds should be sown with a drill, and plenty of room allowed 
for sun exposure. When the young plants are a couple of inches high, 
they should be carefully weeded, and thinned if necessary. Flax is 
harvested for seed when two-thirds or more of the stalks have turned 
yellow and the seed begins to loosen in the capsules. The harvesting 
should be done when the plants are free from moisture. Before 
thrashing, the seed is left for some time in the capsules that it may 
become thoroughly ripe. Various methods are employed for thrash- 
ing out the seed. If the seed only is desired, an ordinary thrashing 
machine is sufficient, but special machines are necessary when both 
fiber and seed are saved. From 8 to 20 bushels of flaxseed are pro- 
duced per acre, the latter amount being considered a large crop, 
secured only on the richest land with the best cultivation. The seed 
brings about $1 a bushel, which, added to the value of the straw when 
grown for fiber, makes flax a very profitable crop. 

For further information concerning flax the reader is referred to the 
bulletins of the Department on fiber investigations. 


Castor oil is obtained from the seed of the castor bean (Ricinus 
communis), a member, of the family EuphorbiacesB, which furnishes 
over 20 species of oil-producing plants, most of them indigenous to 
tropical countries. The castor bean is a native of India, but is culti- 
vated in many parts of the globe. In Persia it furnishes the chief 
illuminating oil. The seed is crushed along with raw cotton wool 
until the oil is expressed. The cotton thus soaked is rolled up into 
the form of tapers, which furnish the common household illuminant. 

The seeds of the common large-seeded variety (fig. 28) are oval, 
smooth, and shining, of a gray ground color, irregularly marked with 
brown. They are 10 to 20 mm. long, 6 to 10 mm. broad, and about 6 
mm. thick, slightly pointed at the upper end, which is provided with 
a whitish fleshy excrescence (caruncle). They are contained in a 
three-lobed, spiny capsule, each lobe holding one seed. When ripe, 
the capsules split from the bottom upward, throwing the seeds to a 
considerable distance. The kernel is composed of two thick, fleshy, 
white lobes of endosperm, which inclose a thin, leaf-like embryo. A 
small-seeded form is used for medicinal purposes, while the large- 



seeded variety furnishes an oil used for lighting and in the making 
of soaps. 

Castor-oil seed is inodorous, and has at first a sweetish taste, becom- 
ing sharp afterwards. The shell amounts to 20 to 24 per cent of the 
entire seed. The kernels contain from 50 to 60 per cent of oil. It is 
viscid, of a pale yellow color, with a disagreeable smell and taste. 
Castor oil is very readily soluble in alcohol, which, with its density 
(the greatest of the vegetable oils), renders adulteration easy of 
detection. It is frequently adulterated with poppj^-seed oil, to 
which a few drops of croton or 
jatropha oil is added. 

The best kinds of castor oil 
come from Italy, Calcutta, and 
Madras, where the seed is de- 
prived of its shell before being 
pressed. This is done by women 
who pound the seed with wooden 
hammers. In America and some 
other countries the shells are re- 
moved by special machinery. 
The shelled seed yields from 50 
to 60 per cent of oil, which is 
more than that yielded by almost 
any other plant. The oil is ob- 
tained by pressing twice cold and 
a third time warm, by boiling 
with water, and extraction by 
the agency of alcohol. It soon 
becomes rancid upon exposure 
to the air. The oil is extensively 
used in medicine as a purgative, 
also in pomades,f or illumination, 
soap making, for lubricating ma- 
chinery, in veterinary practice, 
and, in China, as a condiment. 
The uses to which castor oil is 
devoted are constantly increasing, and a very large amount is consumed. 

In India castor oil is considered the best lamp oil, giving a white 
light, vying in brilliancy with electricity, far superior to petroleum and 
other illuminating oils. It burns slowly, without danger, and gives 
off scarcely any soot. The railway trains of India are lighted almost 
entirely with castor oil, and an excellent gas made from the cake is 
being introduced into the railway stations. The principal shipments 
are from India and Italy. The former country in 1894-95 exported 
2,679,236 gallons. American oil is considered superior to that from 
India, while the Italian is said to be the best of all, 

Fig. 28.— Castor-oil bean (Ricinus communis). 
os, fruit, magnified li times ; 6, seed, front, ' 
magnified 2J- times ; c, back ; d, longitudinal 


In Florida and other warm countries the castor bean is a perennial 
plant, growing from 15 to 30 feet high and as large around as a man's 
body. In colder climates it behaves as an annual, dying down upon 
the approach of winter. The seeds are produced in great abundance, 
and their tendency to scatter when ripe renders the plant a great pest 
where it grows wild. 

The castor bean thrives in the sandiest soil, and its culture is very 
simple. The seeds germinate with difficulty, owing to their thick and 
impervious coat; hence nearly boiling water should be poured over 
them before sowing, and they should remain in this for about twenty- 
four hours, the temperature of the water in the meantime gradually 
lowering to that of the atmosphere. They should be planted in hills, 
2 inches deep, 8 or 10 seeds to a hill, and afterwards thinned out to 
1, or at most 2, plants per hill. The rows are 5 or 6 feet apart, 
with the hills 2 or 3 feet distant. Between every sixth and seventh 
row should be left a space of about S feet, to permit the passage of a 
horse and wagon when the beans are harvested. In the South, where 
the castor bean grows more vigorously, the hills may be 6 or 7 feet 
apart. Planting should take place as early in the spring as possible, 
making allowance for frosts, to which the Ricinus is very susceptible. 
The cutworm, too, is sometimes a serious obstacle to its cultivation. 
The land should be kept free from weeds and the crop grown much 
the same as corn or beans, and on very similar soil. 

In harvesting, the fruiting branches should be cut off as soon as 
the pods begin to pop open, which is in July in the South. This 
process must be repeated at least once or twice a week, as fast as the 
seeds ripen. The fruits are then spread out to dry, either on the 
floor of a granary or other close room or in a " dry yard " built near 
the castor-bean fields. This yard is made by cutting away the sod, 
rolling the ground hard, and building a tight board fence around it 
to prevent loss from the beans scattering. It is better to make a 
tight board floor for the dry yard, which should be in a sunny place, 
sloping to the south. The spikes must be turned over occasionally 
and kept protected from moisture. After the seeds have popped out 
they are cleaned from the shells with a common fanning mill. 

Ricinus seeds should show at least 95 per cent germination and 98 
per cent purity. The seeds of commerce are sometimes mixed with 
those of Jatropha curcas, a tropical plant belonging to the same 

Castor-oil plants have been cultivated to some extent in the United 
States for over twenty years. According to Simmonds, Kansas, in 
1895, produced 361,385 bushels of seed from 24,145 acres, nearly 15 
bushels per acre, the seed weighing 46 pounds to the bushel. In 
Iowa the yield is 15 to 25 bushels per acre, while in the Southern 
States from 35 to 40 bushels, or more, could easily be raised. The 
seed sells at about $1.25 per bushel. The pomace is considered 



valuable for fertilizing purposes. This plant would do well on the- 
light, sandy soil of the Gulf States, and might be made a profitable in- 
dustry, utilizing land that is now practically valueless. 


Fig. 29.— European spurge 
(Euphorbia lathyris). a, 
caruncle ; 6, raphe, 
nifled 5 times. 


Spurge oil is furnished by Euphorbia lathyris, a herbaceous plant 
indigenous to southern Europe, but found in various parts of the 
United States, where it is usually an escape from gardens. Charles 
the Great recommended it to his monks for cul- 
tivation in their cloister gardens. . 

The seeds (fig. 29) are roundish oblong, with 
blunt ends, reddish brown, having a roughish 
surface, with a prominent furrow (raphe) ex- 
tending the entire length of the ventral side. 
They are 3 to 5 mm. long by 1.5 to 3.5 mm. wide 
and 4 mm. thick, with a small caruncle at the 
upper end like that of the castor-oil bean, to 
which family the plant belongs. The seeds 
contain 35 to 45 per cent of a very fluid, light 
yellow to brownish oil, which is at first mild, 
but afterwards sharp and odorous. 

The oil is used as a rubefacient and vesicant; 
also as a purgative, in doses of 10 to 20 drops. In Europe it is 
employed to some extent as a luminant and in the manufacture of 
soaps. It differs from croton and castor oils by its utter insolubility 
in alcohol. Notwithstanding its valuable properties, spurge oil is 
employed but little, on account of its high price. There are many 
species of spurge growing wild throughout the United States, although 

the seeds of most of them are 
too small to be of much eco- 
nomic value. Euphorbialathy- 
ris would grow readily in most 
parts of the country, and its cul- 
tivation might be worth a trial. 


The common sunflower (JHeZ- 
idnthus annuus) is an annual, 
5 to 15 feet high, and indig- 
enous to America. In 1569 it 
was introduced into Europe, 
and is now extensively cultivated there, particularly in Russia, 
where it has been grown for over fifty years, principally for the oil 
contained in its seed-like fruits (akenes). It grows wild throughout 
the United States. The akenes (fig. 30) vary a good deal in size, 
some from southern California being but 5 mm. long and one-half as 
2 A 95 7 



Pig. 30.— Sunflower (Helianthus annuus). a, akene, 
magnified 2} times; 6, longitudinal section; c, 
transverse section in outline. 


wide, while in cultivation they average from 8 to 10 mm. long by 
6 to 8 mm. wide and 3 to 4 mm. thick. They are obversely egg-shaped, 
compressed, usually of a gray color striped with black, and in some 
cases entirely white or black. The gray and striped seeds are pre- 
ferred by some growers, the smaller ones being said to contain the 
most oil. 

The seeds, after the shells are removed, contain 34 per cent of oil, 
of which 28 to 30 per cent is extracted by cold and warm pressure. ' 
Sunflower oil is clear, light yellow, nearly odorless, and of a peculiar, 
pleasant and mild taste. This oil is said to be superior to both almond 
and olive oil for table purposes, and is used in making soap, candles, 
and for lighting. The residue, after extracting the oil, is made into 
oil cake for feeding cattle. The export of this cake forms one of the 
principal industries of Russia. 

In Russia the larger seeds are sold in immense quantities to the 
common people, who eat them much as we do peanuts. The stalks 
furnish a valuable potash fertilizer, while the green leaves are dried, 
pulverized, and mixed with meal as food for cows. Sheep, pigs, and 
especially poultry, fatten rapidly upon the seeds, preferring them to 
other kinds of food. The stalk is said to produce an excellent fiber by 
treating it the same as flax. It is said, also, that much of the Chinese 
silk goods contains sunflower fiber. Five or six cords of stalks are 
produced per acre, which are sometimes used for fuel, while the flowers 
furnish a yellow dye. 

The foregoing remarks apply to the culture and the use of the sun- 
flower in Europe. In this country attempts at its culture have been 
made by a few experiment stations and private individuals. Accord- 
ing to a newspaper report, a farmer in South Dakota planted, in 1895, 
100 acres to Russian sunflowers. The main drawbacks thus far to 
sunflower raising in America are the lack of machinery and the want 
of a good home market for the oil. It is likely, however, that these 
difficulties will be ultimately overcome. 

In Europe old mortar broken up is said to make an excellent fer- 
tilizer for sunflowers. Fresh manure, especially horse manure, 
causes an undue development of the stalks and leaves at the expense 
of the seeds. It is recommended that old manure be applied to the 
field in the fall, the seed being sown as early as possible in the 
following spring. 

The seeds should be planted about 1 inch deep, 6 inches apart, 18 
inches between the rows. "When the plants are 8 or 10 inches high, 
thin them out to 30 inches apart and hill them slightly. Keep them 
entirely free from weeds. When about 3 feet high, the runners 
should be cut off, leaving one main stem with four or five flower 
heads. No further care is needed until harvesting. 

The soil should be rich, dark mold, with as little shade as possible, 
since the sunflower, as its name indicates, requires plenty of sun. 


About 6 pounds of seed per acre is recommended, and it may be 
sown in drills. 

The heads must be harvested promptly as soon as ripe, as birds 
are very fond of the seeds. If the acreage is small, the heads may be 
taken off one by one as fast as they ripen. Care must be exercised 
to dry them as rapidly as possible to prevent molding. In Europe 
the average yield per acre is 2,000 pounds of seed, giving 250 pounds 
of oil. In America the seed sells from 1£ to %i cents per pound. 

In thrashing the heads it is best to pile them in a row on the barn 
floor, placing the seeds uppermost. Continue in this manner until 
the pile is about 2 feet high, placing the last row with the seeds down 
to prevent breaking them with the flail, this being used in thrashing. 
The seeds are then thoroughly dried in the sun and run through a 
cleaning mill. They are next separated by means of screens into 
two sizes — one large, the other small. 

Sunflower seed may be purchased from any prominent seedsman. 
It. should show a germinating per cent of 90 and a purity per cent 
of 99. The price of labor in Russia where sunflower 
raising is such an industry is so much smaller than 
in this country that the profit in the business for 
American farmers is a somewhat uncertain factor at 


This plant, belonging to the sunflower family, is a 
native of Chile, where it has been cultivated a long 
time for oil. It is an annual, growing from 1 to 3 feet Pia. 3i.-Madia (.Ma- 
high, with a large mass of sticky, ill-smelling foliage ^SSi a^T 
and yellow flowers. The akenes (fig. 31) are 6 to 7mm. 
long, 2 to 2.5 mm. wide, and 1 to 1.5 mm. thick, slightly bow shaped, 
broadest at the upper end, gray in color, the surface being ridged with 
fine, longitudinal lines. The seeds contain about 32 per cent of a rich , 
oil, which is used for food, making soap, and illumination, and is said 
to be as good for cooking purposes as olive oil, which it supersedes in 
some countries. The fact that it does not readily congeal makes madia 
oil valuable for lubricating machinery. Madia has been cultivated to 
some extent in France and Germany and grows wild very abundantly 
in California. 

It flourishes on almost any kind of soil, and as it requires but three 
months to ripen may be sown late in the spring if desired. The cul- 
tivation of madia is very simple, although, as in the case of other 
crops, it responds to good soil and tillage. In France it is sown broad- 
cast from the middle of April to the middle of May on well-prepared 
mellow soil, about 20 pounds of seed per acre. The seed comes up in 
ten to twelve days, and as soon as the plants have made a stand they 
are thinned out. At the first hoeing they are again thinned to 1 foot 


apart. The crop is harvested within ninety to one hundred days after 

Harvesting should take place as soon as the seeds are well "set," 
without waiting for them to become thoroughly ripe, as they shell out 
easily; moreover, they finish ripening after the plants are cut. Har- 
vesting is done in France with a sickle. It is claimed that if properly 
cultivated and gathered madia will yield from 1,200 to 1,400 pounds 
of seed per acre, making over 20 gallons of oil. The plants should be 
thoroughly dried before thrashing. 

Madia could be successfully grown in California and other sections 
of the United States. The principal drawbacks are the disagreeable 
odor exhaled by the flowers, the greasy nature of the foliage, and the 
irregular ripening of the seeds. 


Niger-seed oil is made from Guizotia oleifera, another member of 
the sunflower family and a native of Abyssinia. It is an annual, fur- 
nishing the common lamp oil of upper India, where it is cultivated. 
The akenes are similar to those of madia, but smaller and darker. 
They are used in this country to some extent as bird food. They 
yield 35 to 40 per cent of a brownish oil, which becomes pale yellow 
after refining. It has a slightly aromatic odor resembling thyme. 
The cold-pressure oil is used for food, and that obtained by warm 
pressure for making soap, but it can not be used alone for this purpose, 
since it renders soap brittle. 

In India the seed is sown in July or August, after the rainy season, 
and is treated like a wheat crop, no weeding or manuring being 
required. It yields about 2 bushels per acre, and is exported to Lon- 
don and Hamburg principally. This plant could undoubtedly be 
successfully cultivated in the warmer portions of the United States. 


The earthnut, groundnut, goober, pindar, or peanut (Arachis Jvypo- 
gc&a), as it is variously called, is a low, somewhat creeping annual 
belonging to the bean family. It is a native of the tropics, but has 
been for a long time cultivated very extensively in Africa, India, the 
West Indies, and warmer portions of America. Only the lowest 
flowers bear fruit, and after blooming these flowers lengthen their 
stems, which penetrate the ground several inches, where the fruit 

The fruit (fig. 32) is 2 to 3 cm. long and 1 to 1.5 cm. thick, with a 
furrowed, yellowish pod, which contains from 1 to 4 seeds, 1 or 2 
being the common number. In addition to their general use for food 

1 The peanut is more fully treated of in Farmers' Bulletin No. 25, U. 8. Depart- 
ment of Agriculture. 


and confectionery, the seeds furnish 38 to 50 per cent of oil. The 
first cold pressing yields an almost colorless oil, of pleasant taste 
and smell, which is excellent for table use. After the first pressing 
the seeds are sprinkled with water and pressed again, cold, to obtain 
the oil, which is also used to some extent for food purposes, but mostly 
for illumination. The third oil is extracted by warm pressure, and 
is in great demand for making various kinds of soaps. The cake is 
considered an excellent food for stock. The peanuts grown in trop- 
ical countries are said to yield a much greater per cent of oil than 
those raised in temperate regions. 

In the United States peanuts are usually planted after corn, 2 
bushels of seed being used to the acre. Planting takes place as soon 
as all danger from frosts is past. A warm, sandy loam containing 
some lime is the best soil for peanuts. The crop is from 80 to 120 
bushels an acre. The oil is chiefly extracted at Marseilles, France, 
which annually imports 137,000,000 pounds of peanuts. In this coun- 
try peanuts are principally used for eating, 3,250,000 bushels being 

Fig. 82. — Peanut (Arachis hypogcea). a, fruit; 6, seed; c, same with coat removed, showing the 
fleshy cotyledons. All magnified 1J times. 

consumed annually for that purpose. In other countries they are not 
esteemed so highly for food, hence nearly all the foreign product is 
used for oil. At present the conditions in the United States are not 
favorable for making oil from peanuts, although it has lately been 
attempted on a small scale. It is quite likely, however, that peanut- 
oil manufacture will become an important industry in America in the 


The oil of benne, or sesame oil, as it is more frequently called, comes 
from the seeds of Sesamum indicum and 8. orientate, two almost, if 
not quite, identical plants belonging to the Pedaliacese. They are 
indigenous to the East Indies, but are extensively cultivated in Japan 
and other subtropical countries. "Within a comparatively few years 
their culture has been undertaken by Germany, Prance, Austria, and 
England. Sesamum orientate has been cultivated in Asia since the 
earliest times. The Babylonians and ancient Egyptians used the 
seeds for food, and the Egyptian women prepared a cosmetic from 

The plants are hairy, sticky annuals, about 3 feet high, and pro- 
duce an abundance of small, flat, pear-shaped seeds (fig. 33), those of 


Sesamum indicum being yellowish white, while the seeds of S. orien- 
tate are black. Sesame seeds are very rich in oil, yielding from 50 to 
56 per cent in the black-seeded varieties, and 47 to 52 per cent in the 
white-seeded varieties. The former are also said by some to produce 
a better oil than the latter, while others claim the reverse is true. 
The seeds are also used in confectionery and for making soups. 

The oil is clear, of a pale straw color, sweet, and nearly tasteless. 
It is obtained by three pressures, twice cold and the last time warm. 
The first pressure gives the best oil for food purposes. Sesame oil 

is frequently used to adulterate 
almond oil. It is also used for 
making soaps, for illumination, in 
perfumery manufacture, and for 
the toilet. The seeds of commerce 
come chiefly from the East Indies 
and the Levant, the oil being pressed 
at Marseilles and Trieste. The best 
seed is shipped from Jappa to Mar- 
seilles, where the oil brings the 

Fig. 33. -Sesame (Sesamum indicum). a,seed, highest price of any of the many 
magnified 10 times ; b, transverse section. ,.-,.,,-»»■ .,i i , mi 

kinds in the Marseilles market. The 
leaves of the sesame plant are considered of medicinal value, from 
the mucilaginous matter which they contain. 

Sesame ripens its seeds in most of the Middle States, and might be 
profitably cultivated in the South. The negroes near Charleston, 
S. C. , are said to have grown sesame in a small way for two hundred 
years. They plant it in April and harvest the seeds early in Octo- 
ber. The seed used for planting should show a purity of 98 per cent 
and germination of 90 per cent. 


Hempseed oil comes from an annual plant of the nettle family 
(Cannabis sativa), which is indigenous in central Asia and the East 
Indies. It is cultivated in India, Persia, China, North America, 
Germany, and, more than anywhere else, in Russia. It grows from 
4 to 8 feet high in waste and cultivated ground. The odor of the fresh 
leaves sometimes produces headaches, while the celebrated narcotic, 
hashish, is prepared from a gelatinous resin contained in the leaves 
and stems. The latter also furnish the well-known fiber used for 
cloth and cordage. 

The male and female flowers are borne on different plants. The 
nut-like fruits (fig. 34), commonly called seeds, are used in great 
quantities as bird food. They are nearly egg-shaped in outline, 
flattened at the margins. Color, dark gray, with fine, net-like, whitish 
markings on the smooth and shiny surface. Each fruit is completely 
filled with the seed proper, whieh is of the same shape and about 4 mm. 


long by 3 mm. wide and 2 to 3 mm. thick. The seeds contain no 
endosperm, but are filled with a whitish embryo which yields 30 to 35 
per cent of a peculiar-smelling, mild-tasting oil, greenish yellow when 
freshly pressed, becoming brownish yellow with age. Hempseed oil 
is used to a considerable extent in the preparation of paints and var- 
nishes, although it does not dry as readily as linseed oil. In Europe 
it enters largely into the composition of soft soaps. Sometimes it is 
used in the Old World as an illuminant and, rarely, for food. 

Hemp -will thrive in most parts of the United States, and is said to 
produce from 20 to 40 bushels of seed to the acre, worth about $2. 50 
per 100 pounds. With extra good care and soil the yield may reach 
50 to 60 bushels. The seed should be planted in drills, early in April 
in the South, two weeks later in the North. The young plants are 
thinned out when a foot high, and must be kept free from weeds. The 
male plants should be pulled as soon as they have shed their pollen, 
so as to allow the seed-producing _ 

CI* , 

plants plenty of room and all of 
the available soil food. 

Hemp should be harvested 
promptly as soon as the seed 
begins to drop, which always 
takes place after a sharp frost, 
if not before. The seeds scatter 
easily ; hence hemp should be cut 

early in the morning When the Fl °- 8*.— Hemp (Cannabis tativa). a, fruit; 6, 
, ., "■ transverse section of seed. Magnified 6 times. 

dew is on, and great care exer- 
cised to prevent waste. When cut, hemp should be set up in loose 
shocks to dry, a sheet being placed under each one, and some protec- 
tion afforded from birds, as they are fonder of this seed than almost 
any other. Drying is completed by spreading the plants out on a tight 
barn floor, where they are thrashed by hand. 

Hempseed, notwithstanding its oily content, loses its germina- 
tive power quickly, usually by the end of one year; hence only fresh 
seed should be sown. Neither cracked nor dull-looking seed will ger- 
minate well. Hemp culture in America is mostly confined to Ken- 
tucky and Missouri, principally the former State. The value of hemp 
for fiber, birdseed, and oil would seem to make its cultivation a very 

profitable one. 


Rapeseed, or colza, oil is obtained from the seeds of different vari- 
eties of the genus Brassica, rape (Brassica napus) in particular. In 
Europe the term rapeseed oil is sometimes applied to the product 
of rape alone, colza being restricted to the oil obtained from the 
ruta-baga, or Swedish turnip (B. campestris) , while "Rubsen" oil 
is furnished by the common turnip (B. rapa). There is great 
confusion among authors in the use both of the common names of 


the oils and the scientific names of the varieties of Brassica which 
produce them. 

Since the characteristics of the different varieties of rapeseed oil, 
as well as the methods of culture of the plants themselves, are practi- 
cally the same, we shall include them all under the head of rape. 

According to Blomeyer, rape originated on the coasts of Holland 
and England. It has been cultivated extensively in Europe since the 
middle of the sixteenth century. In France rape constitutes seven- 
tenths of the acreage of oil seeds in cultivation, though this has 
decreased somewhat in recent years, owing to the more extensive use 
of mineral oils. In Germany there were 445,000 acres planted to the 
different varieties of Brassica in 1882, the value of the crop of rape- 
seed being over $10,000,000. Besides this, large amounts of rapeseed 
were imported, so that the value of rapeseed oil from Germany alone 
was 112,000,000 to $14,000,000, while in addition over $4,000,000 worth 
of rapeseed oil cake was produced. The total consumption of rape 
and colza oil in Europe is estimated at nearly 330,000,000 pounds per 
annum, valued at over $43,000,000. India annually exports from 

2,500,000 to 4,000,000 hundred 
b weight of rapeseed. A large 

part of this naturally goes to 
Great Britain, which imports 
about 880,000 pounds per year. 
The seeds of all the varieties 
of Brassica are spherical and not 
easily distinguishable from one 
another. Those of B. napus 

Fia. 35.-Hape (Brassica napus). a, seed ; 6, trans- (fig 35) are mostly bluish-black, 
verse section. Magnified 14 times. 1, ' , . , . ' 

B. campestris reddish-brown, B. 
rapa almost black. As a rule the seeds of B. campestris are somewhat 
larger than those of the other varieties, whose seeds average about 2 
mm. in diameter. Brassica seeds are more or less pitted when seen 
under a lens. The seeds of rape contain from 33 to 43 per cent of 
oil, which when crude is a dark yellow brown and used for lubricating. 
Refined and freed from albumen and mucilage the oil becomes bright 
yellow. Rape oil is extensively used for lamps, lubricating machin- 
ery, and for adulterating both almond and olive oils. It is frequently 
adulterated with poppy seed, camelina, flaxseed, mustard, whale and 
fish oils, and with tallow. The refuse cake is a well-known and valu- 
able cattle food. 

Brassica campestris (colza) is said to yield one-third more oil than 
rape. Both rape and colza thrive best on rich, deep soil, especially 
after barley, wheat, and clover. The soil must be well drained. In 
a very light or very stiff soil heavy manuring is required, rapeseed 
cake being excellent for this purpose. Rich liquid manure, such as 
night soil mixed with water and drainings from barnyards, produces 


extremely luxuriant plants. Under such conditions in Germany rape 
sometimes grows 6 feet high, yielding 1,200 to 1,500 pods to each plant, 
with 40 to 50 seeds in a pod. But such crops as this require the utmost 
fertility and care. No plant responds more noticeably to manuring 
and cultivation than rape, the difference often being more than 50 per 
cent over a neglected crop. 

The different varieties of rape fall under two heads, summer rape 
and winter rape. The former comes from seed sown early in the 
spring and maturing in the same season, the plant being an annual. 
Winter rape is a biennial, or, more properly, a winter annual, and is 
considered a better oil plant. In Germany winter rape ripens in three 
hundred to three hundred and fifty days; summer rape in one hundred 
and forty to one hundred and eighty days. Summer rape is said to 
be a more uncertain crop than winter rape, being better adapted to a 
light soil. The yield is 33 to 50 per cent less than from winter rape. 
Rape will not withstand severe winters well unless covered with snow; 
hence, although bottom lands are considered excellent for summer 
varieties, they are not recommended for winter rape on account of 
their liability to frosts. 

When planted for seed purposes, rape should be sown with a drill or 
a seeding machine. The seed should show a germinating per cent of 
95 and a purity per cent of 99. In Germany different methods are used 
for sowing rape. In some cases it is drilled in rows 1| to 2 feet apart, 
with the seed 4 to 5 inches apart in the row. Four to 7 pounds of 
seed is used per acre, winter rape being sown the last of July or before 
the middle of August, summer rape in May or as soon as danger of 
spring frosts is past. The land should be prepared thoroughly, and it 
is recommended that the seed be put in the fresh furrow the same day 
the land is worked. Sow one-half to 1 inch deep, rolling or dragging 
the land afterwards. About the middle of September the ground is 
cultivated, and in October hilled once or twice with a hill plow. If 
seeded too thick, it must be thinned as soon as the seedlings are well 
established in the soil, and again in the spring. 

Another common practice in cultivating rape for seed is to sow in 
large beds and afterwards transplant. The seed bed may be prepared 
by digging trenches in well-manured, loamy soil. As soon as the 
plants have five or six leaves they are thinned to 4 or 5 inches apart. 
One acre of seed bed will furnish enough plants for 10 acres or more 
in the field. As in the other method, the seed is not sown until July 
or August, to prevent the plants from running to seed the same year. 

Transplanting takes place in September or October, great care 
being exercised not to injure the roots. The plants should be care- 
fully lifted out of the soil with a fork, the earth still clinging to their 
roots, and placed in flat baskets, tops upward. In planting, the holes 
should be made with a large dibble or narrow hoe. The earth is 
2 A 95 7* 


drawn up to the plant with another hoe, and as the holes are filled 
the planter firms the earth with his foot as he walks along. Two 
men with hoes and one boy to insert the plants would cover a large 
space in a short time. In the spring the weeds must be carefully- 
cleaned out, and if the ground has been oversoaked during the win- 
ter, the rape should be hilled a second time. 

Rape ripens its seed very unevenly, the lower pods beginning to 
burst before those at the top are filled. The crop should be harvested 
at the end of June or the 1st of July, when the pods begin to turn 
brown and the plants are fully mature, so as to prevent a waste of the 
seed, which rattles out easily. It should be cut in the morning when 
the dew is on. In Europe the cutting is regularly done with a sickle, 
and continued daily as the pods turn brown. The plants are laid on 
the ground in piles, with the pod ends toward the center. 

These piles remain in the field several days, until sufficiently dry, 
when they are hauled into the barn upon sheets spread in the wagon. 
To prevent a waste of seed in loading, a large sheet is also spread on 
the ground by the side of the rows as they are lifted into the wagon. 
Rape should be harvested in a dry season, else much of the seed will 
be lost, some loss being sustained with the best of care. 

If the weather is favorable, the seed may be thrashed in the field 
upon a large sheet of canvas. It should be spread out about 4 
inches deep on the floor of the granary and turned over daily for a 
week or so, to prevent heating and molding. 

The yield varies greatly, being in Germany from 1,800 to 2,600 
pounds per acre. One bushel of seed yields 16.4 to 21 pounds of oil 
and 29.5 to 36.4 pounds of oil cake. In addition to this, 225 pounds 
of straw and pods are reckoned to every hundredweight of seed. In 
Europe the straw and pods are mixed with potatoes and used for 

In this country some varieties of rape, especially that known as 
the Dwarf Essex, are being cultivated to a slight extent for forage, 
but so far as we know rape has not yet been grown in the United 
States for seed. 

Rapeseed could be successfully raised in any of the Northern or 
Western States; probably in the South also. The only question is 
whether the industry would be a profitable one on account of the 
immense extent to which it is carried on in Europe, where labor is 
cheaper. Considering the great demand for rapeseed as bird food, 
as well as for oil, and the good price it brings, its culture seems well 
worthy of a trial. It must be borne in mind that the varieties of rape 
useful as forage are of no value for seed; hence it must be cultivated 
solely for one purpose or the other. 

The seed of the wild mustard, or charlock (Brassica sinapistrum), 
a serious weed in some parts of the West, yields an oil similar to that 
of rapeseed. The same is true of false flax (Camelina sativa), which 



is often found as a weed in flax fields. Other members of the mustard 
family, as black mustard (Brassiea nigra), white mustard (Sinapis 
alba), radish (RapTianus sativus), etc., furnish oil-producing seeds 
and are cultivated to some extent for this product. 


Poppy-seed oil is furnished by the seeds of the opium poppy (Papa- 
ver somniferum), an annual plant, originating in Asia, where it is 
cultivated very extensively, principally for the juice derived from its 
capsules, but also for its seed. The seeds (fig. 36) are less than a 
millimeter in length, kidney-shaped, with the surface regularly pitted, 
giving them a beautiful appearance under a lens. There is a black- 
seeded and a white-seeded variety under cultivation. 

Fifty per cent of oil is obtained from the seeds by warm and 30 per 
cent by cold pressure. It is pale yellow, with a bland and slightly 
sweetish taste, totally destitute of narcotic properties. Poppy-seed 
oil is used for salads, paints, soaps, illumination, and to adulterate 
olive and almond oils. It is 
worth 35 cents a pound in this 
country, the white-seeded vari- 
ety yielding the best oil. 

The plant thrives in a dry, 
warm climate, requiring no more 
care than corn. It does well in 
almost any dry soil if it is not 
too heavy, preferring a light, 
friable clay containing some 
lime. Well-rotted stable manure 
should be applied, but if the soil 
is rather light, soluble phosphates will be found to greatly increase 
the seed crop. 

Sowing should take place early in the spring, since the poppy 
requires about five months to mature its seed. The seed germinates 
slowly, often requiring four weeks if the weather is cold, while in 
warm weather two weeks is sufficient. The seed should be drilled in 
rows, 12*to 18 inches apart, fresh seed saved from large, plump cap- 
sules being used. Under no circumstances should the black and white 
varieties be sown together, as this lessens the value of the crop. On 
soil which is medium heavy scarcely any covering is needed, and on 
the lightest soils the seeds should not be sown more than one-half 
inch deep. 

After a good stand is secured, the plants should be thinned out to 
4 or 6 inches, or even more. They are then treated the same as any 
hoed crop. The poppy is remarkably free from insect and fungous 
attacks; hence under ordinarily favorable conditions the seed crop is 

Fig. 36.— Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). 
a, seed ; b, longitudinal section. Magnified 25 


Harvesting should take place when the pods become leathery and 
the seeds begin to rattle in them. Dry weather must be chosen for 
this purpose, and under no circumstances should the seeds be allowed 
to get wet. The workman walks along the rows and shakes the ripe 
seeds into a bag which he carries. This is repeated every six or eight 
days until the entire crop is harvested. Then the plants are cut, 
bound in loose shocks, and allowed to dry. In Europe they are used 
for straw and fertilizer, but are not suitable for fodder. The seeds 
are carefully dried and are then ready for market. An average crop 
is said to be from 1,000 to 1,200 pounds per acre, yielding about one- 
half this weight of oil. 

In addition to various portions of Asia, where poppy growing is the 
principal industry, a considerable amount of seed is raised in north- 
western France, and some in Germany. It would probably do well 
in the southern and southwestern parts of this country. 

The Mexican poppy (Argemone mexicana), which is widely distrib- 
uted throughout the globe, and an abundant weed in California and 
other sections of the United States, is grown for oil in some countries. 


8 , Among other plants whose seeds furnish oil, the following may be 
.mentioned as growing in the United States, either wild or under cul- 
tivation : Melon, soja bean, maize, tobacco, fennel, dill, anise, parsley, 
caraway, coriander, celery, lovage, and wormseed (Chenopodium 
anthelrninticum). Oils from some of these seeds are used in the prep- 
aration of medicines, and bring a good price. Whether their cultiva- 
tion would prove profitable at the present time can be decided only 
by experiment. 

The following quotations, from a recent number of the Bulletin of 
Pharmacy, will afford an idea of the relative value of some of the oils 
mentioned in this article: 

Oil: Price. 

Anise per pound.. $2.35 

Caraway do 1.80 

Castor per gallon. . 1. 95 

Castor (machine) do 1.10 

Coriander per ounce. . 1. 35 

Cotton-seed per gallon in barrels.. .43 

Croton per pound . . 1 . 20 

Fennel do 1. 65 

Linseed (boiled) _ ..per gallon in barrels.. .48 

Linseed (raw; do .45 

Poppy per pound. . . 35 


By Frederick V. Coville, 
Botanist, U. 8. Department of Agriculture. 

Up to the present time chemistry has shown in a general way what 
substances are required for building and repairing the body, for 
keeping it warm, and for making it work. It has shown, too, approx- 
imately, what amount of lean meat, fat meat, flour, sugar, etc., ought 
to produce the desired result, but it has not yet shown in detail what 
kinds of these various types of food will suit the taste, digestion, and 
physiological needs of particular persons or particular conditions. 
An exclusive diet of salt meat and beans in the arctic region pro- 
duces the physiological condition known as scurvy. In some parts 
of the country a diet of corn bread, bacon, and molasses has been 
persisted in to such an extent as to produce a widespread and almost 
chronic condition of biliousness. The conclusion from such cases is 
that in the selection of foods we must take into account the appetite, 
power of digestion, and physiological peculiarities of the individual; 
in these matters each man is necessarily his own judge. There seems 
little doubt, in general, that a wider use of green vegetables in the 
dietaries of most of our people, particularly those with healthy diges- 
tion, would be a marked benefit. 

In the year's diet of wild herbivorous animals, the fats and the 
carbohydrates, principally stored in seeds in the form of oil and 
starch,, furnish the chief foods in autumn, and on them the animals 
fatten, providing themselves with the necessary store of bodily fuel 
for the winter. In the spring, when they have usually exhausted this 
stored fat, their principal food is green herbage, and upon this they 
renew their muscular vigor and general vitality. A similar yearly 
routine prevails among savage races, as illustrated by many tribes of 
our Western Indians. So far as the naturalness of a diet of green 
vegetables is concerned, there can be no doubt that it formerly was 
and that it still is adapted to the requirements of the human body. 
But since the beginning of civilization the food of mankind has come 
to be more and more artificial in character, until foods are now 
selected more by custom than by instinct. The habit of eating salads 
and boiled green vegetables, commonly referred to as pot herbs or 




greens, is much more prevalent in Europe than in America, and to 
the lack of this kind of food, it is believed, is due in large part the 
reputation of Americans as a bilious race. Of course, like all nations, 
we eat a large amount of plant food, but by far the greater part of it 
is derived from seeds, roots, and tubers. 

All pot herbs are properly gathered in the early period of the 
plant's growth, when the green parts are relatively rich in formative 
and nutritious materials. The percentage of protein compounds in 
the dry matter is then large, compared with its later stages, for the 
plant at this time is engaged in the manufacture of the substances 
necessary for its own later development, which are largely similar to 

those required in the building up of 
the human body. It must be borne in 
mind, on the other hand, that more 
than four-fifths, by weight, of the sub- 
stance of green vegetables is made up 
of water. Care should always be taken 
in gathering or selecting pot herbs 
that the plants are young and have not 
become tough and stringy by the trans- 
formation of their formative materials 
into cellulose or other indigestible and 
perhaps deleterious substances. In 
preparing them for the table they 
should be boiled, the time varying 
from only a few minutes, in the case 
of a very succulent and mild plant, to 
two and even three hours, in the case 
of a plant with thick, firm tissues or 
containing a bitter principle. The 
latter defect must be removed by long 
boiling and the repeated changing of 
the water. The details of cooking are 
the business of the cook, and in the 
following pages only such references 
to this subject will be made as are 
specially called for by some peculiarity of a particular plant. 

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris). — This variety of the common beet 
has been cultivated and selected in such a way that the principal 
development of the plant takes place in the leaves instead of the root. 
The plant is sometimes called, therefore, leaf beet and sometimes 
spinach beet. After sowing in spring the plants are thinned, like 
beets, and well supplied with water. In late summer, autumn, and, in 
more southern climates, in early winter, the leaves are in condition 
for use. The leaves of the ordinary beet are also used as a pot herb, 
but only in spring and early summer. Beets when raised for their 

Fig. 37.— Charlock (Brassica sinapisirum). 



roots are sowed in drills, and as the plants increase in size the rows 
are thinned to the proper extent, the young plants being pulled from 
time to time, roots and leaves together, for boiling. 

Charlock (Brassica sinapistrum). — This plant occurs as a weed 
across the northern part of the United States, from New England to 
the State of Washington, and is most troublesome in regions like 
Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota, where spring wheat is 
extensively cultivated (fig. 37). It is a near relative of the black 
mustard, commonly occurring with it as a field weed, but may be 
distinguished by its large pods, which when mature are 1 to 2 inches 
in length, those of black mustard scarcely exceeding half an inch. 
Charlock was commonly used as 
a pot herb in northern Europe 
centuries ago, but in America it 
has not, so far as known, been 
employed for that purpose. In- 
deed, in some parts of central 
New York, where it is distin- 
guished from its relative under 
the name "wild mustard," it is 
commonly reputed to be poison- 
ous, and is carefully avoided in 
gathering the young mustard 
plants. Charlock and black mus- 
tard must not be confounded 
with yellow rocket and its rela- 
tive, winter cress, the latter of 
which is described hereafter. 

Chicory (Cichorium inty- 
hus). — This plant, the ground 
and roasted root of which is used 
in small amounts to improve the 
flavor of coffee and in larger 
amounts as an adulterant or sub- 
stitute for it, occurs as a weed 
in the Atlantic States and on the Pacific Coast, and locally in the 
interior (fig. '38). Thus far it is confined principally to the vicinity 
of cities and towns, and has not yet become generally diffused. It is 
closely related to the cultivated endive (Cichorium endivia), a com- 
mon salad plant. Chicory is a biennial, which in its second year 
throws up a stiff, branching, almost leafless stem 2 to 4 feet high. In 
late summer and autumn it bears large numbers of blue flower heads 
about an inch in diameter and similar in shape to those of a dande- 
lion, which open in the early morning and close after a few hours' 
exposure to the sun. During the whole of its first year it sends up 
no stem, but its leaves grow in a rosette upon the ground, closely 

Fig. 38.— Chicory (Cichorium intybus). 


resembling those of a dandelion, but larger. In the spring of the 
second year the plant bears a still larger tuft of these leaves, 
which is soon followed by the flowering stem. The root leaves in 
their young state are the parts used as a pot herb. They contain a 
bitter principle and require the same process of cooking as the 

Winter cress (Barbarea praecox). — This plant and the yellow 
rocket {Barbarea barbarea) often pass tinder the general name of 
mustard, btit the two species may be easily distinguished from the 
true mustards by the form of their leaves, as well as by the technical 
difference shown in the cross section of the seed (fig. 39). Yellow 
rocket is a well-established weed in the Eastern States, having been 

introduced from Europe. It occurs 
also as a native plant upon the higher 
mountains from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific. Winter cress is in common 
cultivation from the vicinity of New 
York City southward, and to some 
extent reseeds and maintains itself 
without assistance, but it can hardly 
be considered under these conditions 
a real weed. In the city of Wash- 
ington it is marketed extensively as 
a winter salad and pot herb. The 
seed is sowed in late summer after 
some early crop, or at the time of the 
last cultivation of an early fall crop, 
such as cabbage. It is usually sowed 
broadcast and is given scarcely any 
cultivation except the pulling of 
weeds. Yellow rocket itself is rarely 
used in this country as a pot herb. 

Dandelion (Taraxacum, taraxa- 
cum). — The dandelion is too well 
known to require any description. 
Although, like the yellow rocket, it 
grows as a native plant on our higher mountains, its occurrence as 
a weed in lawns and pastures is due, as with most of our other com- 
mon weeds, to its introduction from Europe. While it occurs in 
almost all parts of the United States, it is not a common plant in and 
west of the Great Plains, nor in the extreme south, though it has ob- 
tained a strong foothold at a few points on the Pacific Coast. In 
lawns it is an objectionable weed, not so much on account of its un- 
sightliness as because, from its spreading habit, it chokes out the 
proper lawn plants. It is not generally known that the market gar- 
deners in the vicinity of Paris have been cultivating the dandelion 

Fig. 39. — Winter cvess(Barbarea praecox). 



for the past twenty-five years, and that at least three horticultural 
varieties have been developed within that time. In the United States, 
however, the dandelion is seldom cultivated, though eaten almost 
everywhere. The customary use of the dandelion in Paris is as a 
salad, the plants being eaten either green or blanched. When used 
as a pot herb the water in which the plants are boiled is changed two 
or three times during the process in order to remove the bitter taste. 
Dock (Bumex, of various species). — Two species of dock, the broad- 
leafed (Bumex obtusifolius) (fig. 40) and the curled (B. crispus), are 
common weeds in pastures, meadows, and cultivated fields, the former 
extending from New England to the Great Plains, the latter quite 
across the countiy. Both are 
perennials whose root leaves in 
spring are often used as a pot 
herb, sometimes alone, sometimes 
mixed with dandelions or other 
plants. Patience dock (B. pa-, 
tientia) is widely cultivated in 
Europe as a pot herb, and is 
grown in America also to some 
extent for the same purpose, but 
it seldom appears in our markets. 
In many places in New England 
and New York it has escaped from 
old gardens, where it was often 
known as "herb patience," and 
has become established as a weed 
in meadows. Sorrel dock (B. 
acetosa), or simply sorrel, as it is 
usually called in England, has 
appeared in the United States as 
a weed in only a few places, the 
plants commonly known here as 
sorrel being our native B. hasta- 
tulus of the Middle Mississippi 
Valley region, and the introduced 
B. acetosella which occurs on poor soils everywhere east of the Great 
Plains. Neither of these two species appears to be used as a pot herb, 
and they would probably not be satisfactory for such a purpose. But 
the true sorrel dock is in common cultivation in Europe, being grown 
either from seed or by root propagation. This is the most acid of the 
plants used as pot herbs, nearly all the docks containing, in greater or 
less amount, an acid principle similar to that of the common pie plant 
or rhubarb. The fact that the young leaves of one of our native docks, 
B. berlandieri, were used as a pot herb by the American aborigines, 
more particularly the Pimas and Maricopas, is not generally known. 

Fig. 40.— Broad-leafed dock (Bumex obtusifo 


The leaves are gathered when the plant is a few inches high and eaten 
either boiled or raw. They have an acid taste, in this respect resem- 
bling the sorrel dock. Growing as it does in the arid region of Arizona, 
New Mexico, and Texas, where succulent vegetation is scarce, it is 
well worth a trial as a table vegetable. 

Kale {Brassica oleracea acepliala). — Kale, essentially a cabbage 
plant that does not form a head, is a common market pot herb. It 
bears several names, including borecole, German greens, Georgia 
collards, Gallega cabbage, in addition to many descriptive names of 
varieties. Like cabbage, it requires thorough cooking, and is less 
easily digestible than many other pot herbs. The young leaves of the 

turnip {Brassica rapa), either green or 
blanched, are frequently used as a pot 
herb, particularly in the South. They 
closely resemble some of the varieties of 
kale in both appearance and taste. 

Lamb's-quarters (Chenopodium al- 
bum). — This is a common weed in culti- 
vated fields and gardens, extending 
almost throughout the United States (fig. 
41). It is more commonly known as pig- 
weed, or sometimes as goosefoot, and is 
to be distinguished from the true pigweed 
described hereafter not only by technical 
botanical characteristics but by the fact 
that the herbage, particularly when 
young, bears a more or less abundant 
mealy coating, giving the whole plant a 
pale bluish-green color. In its young 
stage, when 6 or 8 inches high, the plant 
is very tender and succulent, and in 
Europe, as well as in some parts of our 
own country, has often been employed as 
a pot herb. Indeed, its botanical rela- 
tionship would indicate its adaptability 
to such a use, since it belongs to the same 
family as the beet, spinach, orach, and mercury. This is perhaps the 
most widely diffused and commonest of the weeds which might be used 
for human food. The plant is an annual, and as a weed is not difficult 
to keep in check. In cooking, boil for about twenty minutes. 

Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris). — This plant, which in the 
United States bears more commonly the name "cowslip," is a native 
of the northern United States and British America, extending from 
New England to Minnesota and northwestward to Alaska (fig. 42). 
It grows in cold swamps and wet meadows, shooting up in the spring 
through the shallow water. Locally it is used among the country 

Pig. 41.— Lamb's-quarters {Chenopo- 
dium album). 



people as a pot herb, the plants being gathered when they are in bud 
or just as the flowers begin to open. 
By many it is considered superior 
to any other plant used in this way. 
From the surroundings in which it 
grows it is almost sure to be free 
from dirt or sand, and to this fact, 
in part, is doubtless due its popu- 
larity, for it is very much more 
easily handled by the cook or house- 
wife than are plants which require 
repeated washings. 

Mercury (Chenopodium bonus- 
Jienricus). — Mercury, more com- 
monly pronounced "markery," is 
one of the common cultivated pot 
herbs of Europe, and to some extent, 
has been introduced into our gar- 
dens. It shows little tendency to 
spread as a weed, and is not likely 
to become generally abundant in 

the United States. Its Value as a Fig. 42. -Marsh marigold (Calthapalustris). 

pot herb is about the same as the related species, lamb's-quarters. 

Besides these two species of Cheno- 
podium, . or goosefoot, the use of 
which for food has been taught us by 
Europeans, we have in our Western 
country several other species, among 
them C. fremonti and C. leptophyl- 
lum, both of which are native to the 
United States. There is little doubt 
that either of these, gathered at the 
proper season and suitably cooked, 
would be equally palatable. 

Black mustard {Brassica ni- 
gra). — This plant, from which the 
condiment known as mustard is 
chiefly derived/has long been culti- 
vated in Europe for its young leaves 
(fig. 43). In our own country it was 
introduced many years ago as a 
weed in fields, and in some regions, 
more particularly in Calif ornia, where 
it passes under the general name 

Pig. 43.— Black mustard (Brassica nigra). of " Wild mustard," it has become 

a thorough pest in wheat fields. So easily does it seed itself that it is 


rarely, if ever, really cultivated in the United States, although small 
areas in the corners of gardens are often left without cultivation as 
a "mustard patch." Its value as a honey-producing plant has added 
further to its desirability on farms. In hoed crops it is not difficult 
to keep in check. 

Orach (Atriplex hortense). — This is an occasional garden substitute 
for spinach, though it rarely appears in market. Several varieties are 
grown in Europe, which differ principally in color, the stem and leaves 
varying from the ordinary bright green to a pale yellowish green with 
white stems or to a dark reddish purple. The plant is a native of 
Tartary and shows no tendency to become established as a weed. 

Pigweed (Amarantus palmeri). — None of the 
common pigweeds introduced from tropical Amer- 
ica and common in our cultivated fields, such as 
A. retroflexus and A. chlorostachys, appear to have 
come into use as pot herbs, although a variety of 
A. gangeticus is commonly cultivated by the Chi- 
nese in California for this purpose. Among our 
Southwestern Indians, both in Arizona and in north- 
ern Mexico, as well as among the Mexicans them- 
selves, a native species, A. palmeri, is used largely 
in a similar manner (fig. 44). In the markets of 
Guaymas, in the State of Sonora, it is sold in large 
quantities, the young plants growing each year from 
seed and being gathered when they are from 6 to 
10 inches high. No attempt seems to be made to 
cultivate the plant, the Mexicans trusting entirely 
to the natural supply. From the suggestive use of 
these species of pigweed among the Chinese and the 
Mexicans, a trial of some of our other species may 
well be made. 

Poke weed {Phytolacca decandra). — This is a 
native plant of the United States, growing through- 
out almost all parts, except the extreme north, as 
far westward as the Great Plains. It occurs com- 
monly in rich, uncultivated ground, in open places in woods, or in 
almost any neglected spot. The stems reach a height of from 4 to 
8 feet and bear drooping chisters of purple berries. The root is 
perennial, shaped somewhat like a beet, and in age becomes very 
large. It contains a deadly poison, which is used medicinally, and in 
some cases has caused accidental death. The berries, while reputed 
to be poisonous, are often eaten by birds, and are presumably quite 
harmless. In early spring the stout stems push out from the ground 
and are cut when only 2 to 4 inches in height. They are thick and 
succulent like the stems of asparagus, and are not only used by coun- 
try people, but are commonly brought into the city markets, where 

Fig. U.— Pigweed 
{Amarantus pal- 



they are sold under the name of "sprouts." From the extremely 
poisonous nature of the root it is evident that care should be taken 
in using the plant. But the fact that they are always cooked 
practically removes any danger from this source, as the poisonous 
principle of the roots is dispelled in the boiling process. The roots, 
however, are bitter, and if portions remain attached to the stem the 
taste of the boiled herb is often disagreeable. In Mexico the plant 
occurs frequently about old missions, suggesting a former use of 
some kind, but at the present time it does not appear to be employed 
there as a pot herb. In the United States it is not cultivated, in the 
proper sense of the word, although those who bring it into the mar- 
kets are careful to allow it to main- 
tain itself in the areas in which it 
becomes established. The French, 
however, always apt in testing and 
making use of every kind of food, 
have introduced the plant into 
cultivation in Europe. 

Purslane (Portulaca olera- 
cea). — The common garden purs- 
lane, more commonly known as 
"pusley," occurs as a weed in 
almost every garden in the United 
States, yet rarely does one meet 
with a person who has ever eaten 
it or who knows of its use as a pot 
herb. The plant is a native of 
India, has been cultivated from 
the earliest times, and was such 
an early accompaniment of civili- 
zation as to have a Sanskrit name. 
It was carried westward to Europe, 
and has there been in use for 
centuries as a salad and pot herb. 
Indeed, several varieties are now 
known in cultivation. In the United States, however, it is known 
only as a weed, its principal economic value being supposed to be 
as a food for hogs, a purpose to which large quantities of it are 
devoted. Notwithstanding this use, it is treated as a weed, not as a 
forage plant. As a pot herb, however, it is very palatable, still retain- 
ing, when cooked, a slight acid taste. It can be heartily recommended 
to those who have a liking for this kind of vegetable food. 

Winter purslane (Claytonia perfoliata). — In mountain regions 
from the Rocky Mountains westward to the Pacific occur several varie- 
ties of Claytonia more or less resembling the two well-known species of 
the eastern United States called "spring beauty." The most widely 

Fig. 45.— Winter purslane (Claytonia per- 


diffused and representative among the western species is C. perfoliaia 
(fig. 45). For many years this has been in use as a pot herb, though 
a knowledge of its employment for this purpose appears to be con- 
fined to restricted localities. The same species or a closely related 
one is reputed to occur in Mexico and in Cuba, and from the latter 
country it has been introduced into cultivation in Europe. The mem- 
bers of the Death Valley expedition in California in 1891 used large 
quantities of this plant when they came out of the desert and ascended 
the mountains to the west, having lived for several months without 
green vegetables of any kind. 

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea). — The common garden spinach culti- 
vated everywhere in Europe and the United States may be considered 
the typical pot herb of these two countries. The plant, which was 
unknown to the Greeks and Romans, is believed to have originated in 
Persia and to have been carried both westward and eastward, ulti- 
mately finding its way to China as well as western Europe and America. 
It is an annual of quick growth, producing in early summer a large 
number of triangular root leaves arranged in a rosette. Several varie- 
ties of spinach are known in cultivation, as, for example, prickly-seeded 
spinach, Flanders spinach, and lettuce-leafed spinach. In the south- 
ern United States it is grown as a winter vegetable, the seed being 
sowed in August or September, and mulched with straw or salt hay. 
Under such conditions it produces a good crop during the late autumn 
and winter months. 

New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia expansa). — This plant, which 
originated in New Zealand, was brought to Europe by Captain Cook 
in his voyage around the world, and has since been cultivated there 
to a greater or less extent. It is an annual, with spreading branching 
stems and inconspicuous green flowers. Unlike spinach, it continues 
to produce a crop of succulent leaves during the whole summer, and 
therefore is useful as a pot herb in the hot season, when almost all 
other plants so employed are not available. It will also withstand a 
considerable drought, and for this reason is especially useful in regions 
of limited rainfall. It would probably prove one of the most success- 
ful pot herbs for general cultivation in many parts of our western 
subarid region. 

The plants enumerated here do not by any means comprise all the 
species that might be used as pot herbs, but they have been selected 
so as to suggest to people in every part of our country certain plants 
growing in their own region which are available for use in this man- 
ner. Doubtless others, particularly among our native plants, such as 
the common nettle, milkweed, and the round-leafed mallow, commonly 
known to children as "cheeses," will be found equally important. 


By Chas. Richards Dodge, 
Special Agent in Charge of Fiber Investigations, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 

In the literature of the fiber-producing plants of the world the word 
hemp appears frequently, applied oftentimes to fibers that are widely 
distinct from each other. The word is usually employed with a prefix, 
even when the true hemp is meant, as manila hemp, sisal hemp, Rus- 
sian hemp, etc. In this article will be considered the hemp plant 
proper, the Cannabis sativa of the botanists, which has been so gen- 
erally cultivated the world over as a cordage fiber that the value of 
all other fibers as to strength and durability is estimated by it. In 
many of the experiments of Roxburgh and others we find "Russian 
hemp" or "best English hemp" taken as standards of comparison. 

The Sanskrit name of the plant is bhanga; in Hindostan it is called 
ganja; the Arab name is kinnub, from which, doubtless, its Latin 
name, cannabis, is derived; in Persia it is known as bung, while in 
China it is chu ts-ao, and in Japan, asa. 

Its native home is India and Persia, but it is in general cultivation 
in many parts of the world, both in temperate and more tropical 
climes, though only in Russia and Poland in large quantities for 
export. French hemp is much valued, but the finest quality comes 
from Italy, and is pronounded fine, soft, light colored, and strong. 
Hemp grows in all parts of India, and in many districts flourishes in 
a wild state. It is but little cultivated for its fiber, although Bombay- 
grown hemp "was proved to be superior to the Russian." In portions 
of India, as well as other hot countries, it is cultivated for its narcotic 
products, the great value of which makes the India cultivators 
indifferent about the fiber. Hemp is largely grown in Japan for 
the manufacture of cloth. This industry is very old, as prior to 
the introduction of silk weaving it was the only textile fabric of the 

Its cultivation is an established industry in the United States, Ken- 
tucky, Missouri, and Illinois being the chief sources of supply, though 
the culture has extended as far north as Minnesota and as far south 
as the Mississippi Delta, while California has recently become inter-, 
ested in its growth. 

Several varieties are* cultivated in this country, that grown in Ken- 
tucky, which has a hollow stem, being the most common. China 
hemp, with slender stems, growing very erect, has a wider range of 



culture, and Smyrna hemp is adapted to cultivation over a still wider 
range, but is not so well known. A small quantity ox seed of the 
Piedmontese hemp of Italy was distributed by the Department of 
Agriculture in 1893, but the results of the experiments were not fully 

Formerly large areas were devoted to the cultivation of the plant 
in the United States, and thirty-five years ago nearly 40,000 tons of 
hemp was produced in Kentucky alone, while now hardly more than 
a fourth of this quantity is produced in the whole country. There 
are several reasons for the decline in production in the United 
States, but it dates back, primarily, to the decline in American ship- 
building and to the introduction of the Philippine Island hemp 
(Musa textilis), the manila hemp of commerce, and later to the large 
importation of jute. Quite recently there has been a further falling 
off in production, and it is worthy of note that this is largely due to 
the overproduction of this same hemp of Manila, brought about by 
the high prices of the latter fiber in 1890-91, a direct result of the 
manipulation of the fiber market by certain binding-twine manu- 

Formerly the hemp of Kentucky was not only used for the rigging 
of vessels, and in twines or yarns, and bagging, but it was spun and 
woven into cloth, just as to-day it is manufactured into fabrics in 
portions of Brittany. 

About 1890, when the Department of Agriculture became interested 
in extending the cultivation of hemp, and when the consumption of 
binding twine amounted to 50,000 tons annually, it was shown that, 
at the prices then prevailing, if one-half of the binding twine were 
made of common hemp grown at home, and not from manila or sisal, 
there would be a clear saving to the consumers of $1,750,000 in a year, 
with the further advantage that American farmers would produce the 
raw material. There was a cry that "soft twines" would not work in 
the self-binders, though the Office of Fiber Investigations was able to 
show that common hemp twine could be employed quite as satisfac- 
torily as the stiffer twines, and that the prejudice had no substantial 

In the past two years there has been an increasing demand for 
information relating to hemp culture, and experiments looking to its 
production have been carried on in localities where previously its 
culture was unknown, notably in extreme Southern States, which are 
large producers of cotton. 


As in Brittany, so in Kentucky, limestone soils, or the alluvial soils 
such as are found in the river bottoms, are best adapted to this plant. 
The culture, therefore, is quite general along the smaller streams of 
Brittany, where the climate is mild and the atmosphere humid. In 


Kentucky the best lands only are chosen for hemp, and the most 
favorable results are obtained where there is an underlying bed of 
blue limestone. In certain portions of the State, Shelby County for 
example, it is claimed that a finer and tougher fiber is produced than 
in other sections, and this is thought to be due to a mixture in the 
soil of a whitish, oily clay. As a general rule, however, light or dry 
soils or heavy, tenacious soils are most unfavorable. 

Hemp is not considered a very exhaustive crop. In a former report 
it was stated by a successful Kentucky grower that virgin soil sown 
to hemp can be followed with this crop for fifteen to twenty years 
successively; sown then to small grain and clover, it can be grown 
every third year, without fertilizers, almost indefinitely. 

In France a rotation of crops is practiced, hemp alternating with 
grain crops, although competent authorities state that it may also be 
allowed to grow continuously upon the same land, but not without fer- 
tilizers. Regarding this mode of cultivation, they consider that it is 
not contrary to the law of rotation, as by deep plowing and the annual 
use of an abundance of fertilizers the ground is kept sufficiently 
enriched for the demands which are made upon it. If the soil is not 
sufficiently rich in phosphates or the salts of potassium, these must be 
supplied by the use of lime, marl, ground bone, animal charcoal, or 
ashes mixed with prepared animal compost. Even hemp cake, the 
leaves of the plant, and the "shive," or "boon," may be returned to 
the land with benefit. This high fertilizing is necessary, as "the 
hemp absorbs the equivalent of 1,500 kilos of fertilizers per every 
hundred kilos of fiber obtained. " 

In Japan, where most excellent hemp is produced, the ground is 
given a heavy dressing of barnyard manure before it is plowed in 
November. After the soil has been well pulverized and reduced to 
fine tilth, the seed is drilled and the land given a top dressing com- 
posed of one part fish guano, two parts wood ashes, and four parts 
animal manure. The proportions and the quantities used differ, of 
course, upon different soils. 

In New York, where hemp was formerly grown, barnyard manures 
or standard fertilizers are used, as it is considered essential to put 
the soil in good fertility to make a successful crop. In Illinois, with 
the method of cultivation in vogue, it is not regarded as in any way 
exhaustive to the soil, though the refuse must be returned if possible. 
A Kentucky practice is to burn the refuse and spread the ashes over 
the land. 

As in flax culture, a careful and thorough preparation of the seed 
bed is important, for the finer and more mellow the ground the better 
will be the fiber. This is better understood in Europe than in America, 
however, for American hemp is coarse, and its chief use, in a cordage 
fiber, does not make fineness an essential; in fact, American hemp is 
more nearly like the hemp of Russia, with which it competes. 


Soil preparation in the blue-grass region of Kentucky consists in 
a fall or early spring plowing, and a short time before seeding, which 
in general terms is about corn-planting time, the ground is thoroughly 
pulverized by means of an improved harrow, such as the disk harrow, 
after which it is made smooth. The date of planting varies according 
to whether the soil is wet or dry, and may range from the last week 
in March to the last week in April, or even the 1st of May. 

In Brittany, after the harrow and roller are used, small lines of 
trenches or furrows are dug about 10 feet apart for drainage pur- 
poses, after which the surface is cleared of weeds and the seed sown 
in drills. The drill is likewise used in Illinois, though the most com- 
mon practice in Kentucky is to sow broadcast, followed by a light 
harrowing and sometimes by a light drag to level the surface. 

A correspondent states that many farmers in Shelby County, Ky., 
use the ordinary grain drill for broadcast seeding. The rubber pipes 
are removed from the drill, and a board is attached directly beneath 
the hopper. The seed falling upon the board is scattered in front of 
the drill hoes, which do the covering. A light drag passed over the 
field levels and evens the surface, after which nothing is done until 
the hemp is ready for the harvest. 

The quantity of seed sown to the acre varies. One large grower 
says 33 pounds of seed per acre is the proper amount. Another 
states that 1 to 1^ bushels is his rule. In New York 1 to 3 bushels 
have been sown (in past time), 1 bushel giving better results than a 
larger quantity. In Illinois it varies from 1 to 2£ bushels. 

In France a difference is made regarding the use to which the fiber 
will be put, a third more seed being sown for spinning fiber than for 
cordage fiber. On a farm in Sarthe, visited by the writer, a little less 
than 3 bushels to the acre was the usual quantity sown, but as high 
as 4 bushels are sown on some farms. 

There will be little trouble with weeds if the first crop is well 
destroyed by the spring plowing, for hemp generally occupies all the 
ground, giving weeds but little chance to intrude. For this reason 
the plant is an admirable weed killer, and in flax-growing countries 
is sometimes employed as a crop, in rotation, to precede flax, because 
it puts the soil in good condition. In proof of this, a North River 
farmer a few years ago made the statement that thistles heretofore 
had mastered him in a certain field, but after sowing it with hemp 
not a thistle survived, and while ridding his land of this pest the 
hemp yielded him nearly $60 per acre where previously nothing val- 
uable could be produced. 


In Kentucky the hemp stalks are considered ready to cut in one 
hundred days, or when the first ripe seed is found in the heads. The 
cutting is usually done with a hooked implement, or knife bent at 


right angles about 24 inches from the hand. In recent years, how- 
ever, the work is sometimes done by machines adapted to the pur- 
pose, and particularly when the stalks are slender. 

In France there are two modes of harvesting, dependent upon the 
use to which the fiber will be put. If the fiber is for cordage, the 
stalks are cut with a sharp instrument resembling a short scythe, and 
laid upon the ground in sheaves, where they are left to dry from one 
to three days. The leaves are then stripped and the stalks removed 
to the sheds, to be assorted, and then placed in piles horizontally, the 
lower ends of the stalks being pressed firmly against a wall, so that the 
inequalities of their length may plainly appear. Upon each pile there 
is placed close to the wall a weight, to prevent deranging the stems 
while drawing them out in assorting. This is done by handfiils; 
first the longest stems, then the medium, and then the short ones. 
They are bound into sheaves, several of which are put together, form- 
ing bundles, each containing stalks of equal length. The tops of the 
sheaves are then cut off, and only the portion preserved that will 
make good fiber. 

When the hemp is grown for use in spinning — that is, for fabrics — 
the stalks are not cut, but are pulled like flax. The operator first 
removes the leaves by passing his hand from top to bottom of the 
stalk, it being important to return the leaves to the soil wbere they 
were grown. Six to fifteen stalks are pulled at one operation, accord- 
ing to the ease with which they can be drawn out of the ground, and 
the earth shaken off. These handfuls are made into bundles about 
6 inches in diameter, and the roots and tops are then removed by 
means of an ax and chopping block. The clipped stalks are then 
made up into larger bundles a foot or more in diameter, and are sent 
to be retted at once, as it is claimed that the hemp is not so white if 
it is dried before retting. 

Hemp is probably never pulled in this country. When the stalks 
are cut they are laid in rows, even at the butts, and are allowed to 
remain on the ground, not over a week, to dry — only long enough, as 
one correspondent expresses it, to get a rain on the leaves, so that 
they will drop off readily. Where the rain is too long deferred, how- 
ever, the hemp should be put in shocks, or small stacks, having been 
first made into bundles of convenient size for easy handling. 

Hemp is dew retted in this country; that is, spread evenly over the 
ground to undergo the action of the elements which dissolve or rot out 
the gums holding the filaments together. Formerly pool, or water, 
retting was practiced in a very small way in Kentucky and to a slight 
extent later in Illinois. It is said that Henry Clay introduced the 
practice into the former State, but it was not followed. It is true, 
however, that the manufacturers formerly preferred water-retted 
hemp, and the Navy Regulations required it, but the price of cordage 
hemp hardly warranted the extra labor and consequent expense. 


The hemp is allowed to remain in stack until November or Decem- 
ber, or about two months, when it is spread over the ground until 
retted. No rule can be given regarding the proper length of time 
that the hemp should lie, as this varies according to the weather, sud. 
den freezing, followed by thaws, hastening the operation. It is usually 
allowed to lie until the bast separates readily from the woody portion 
of the stalk. When there is a large crop, there may be an advantage 
in spreading the hemp earlier than November, in order that the break- 
ing may be done in the winter months. Winter-retted hemp is 
brighter, however, than that retted in October. It is usually stacked 
and spread upon the same ground upon which it is grown, and when 
sufficiently retted, as can be determined by breaking out a little, it is 
again put into shocks. If the hemp be dry, the shocks should be tied 
around the top tightly with a band of hemp to keep out the rain. The 
shocks are made firm by tying with a band the first armful or two, 
raising it up and beating it well against the ground. The remainder 
of the hemp is set up around this central support. By flaring at the 
bottom, and tying well, a firm shock can be made that will stand 
firmly without danger of being blown over by the wind. 

Dew retting is practiced to some extent in France, though water 
retting gives better results. The practice, called "rouissage," is 
accomplished both in pools and in running streams. The river ret- 
ting seems to accomplish better results, although taking a little 
longer time than the pool retting, the duration of immersion varying 
from five to eight days. If the weather is cool, it retards the opera- 
tion two or three days longer than if warm. This accounts, too, for 
the shorter time occupied when the immersion takes place in pools. 
This work is usually done in the latter part of August. The bundles 
of hemp are floated in the water, secured if in a running stream, and 
are covered with boards kept in place by stones or any weight that 
will keep them under. There appears to be little pool retting in the 
Sarthe district, although public opinion is generally against river 
retting on the score of its rendering the waters of the streams foul 
and detrimental to health, as well as destructive to all animal life 
with which they would otherwise abound. It is understood that 
there are very stringent police regulations against the use of streams 
for this purpose, and as long ago as 1886, in a brochure published by 
M. Bary, a hemp spinner of Le Mans, attention was called to the 
desirability of introducing an improved method of retting which 
wotild accomplish all the beneficial results of retting in running 
water artificially, and therefore render unnecessary the polluting of 
streams. While many attempts have been made to bring about a 
better system, none have been successful, and, police regulations to 
the contrary notwithstanding, the best hemp fiber produced in the 
Sarthe district is still retted in the running streams. Where pool 
retting is followed, the pools are specially constructed, dug out of the 


earth to the depth of a yard or more, walled up or the sides made 
solid, and lined and floored with cement usually in order that the 
water shall remain clean and the hemp retain its color. The stalks 
are watched very closely after the third or fourth day, the farmer 
breaking and examining a few at intervals to guard against over- 
retting, which weakens the fiber. 

When sufficiently retted, whether the work is done in streams or 
pools, the hemp bundles are removed from the water, but first agi- 
tated to remove all waste matter that may be adhering to the stalks. 
They are then drained, and the bundles, opened at the bottom, are 
set up in conical sheaves to dry, this operation being accomplished 
in two or three days. Considerable of the hemp grown, in the Sarthe 
district at least, is further dried in brickkilns. 

The Japanese method of retting differs so materially from the prac- 
tices followed in western countries that a brief statement will prove 
interesting. The raw hemp produced in Japan is usually sold in the 
form of thin, smooth ribbons, which are of a light straw color, the 
frayed ends showing a fiber of exceeding fineness. Some beautiful 
samples of this hemp were secured by the writer at the World's 
Columbian Exposition, with an account of the peculiar treatment of 
the stalks to produce the fiber. 

In Japan hemp is ready for harvesting about one hundred and 
twenty days after sowing, or about the 20th of July. In harvesting,' 
the plants are pulled, leaves and roots are cut off with a sickle, and 
the stems sorted into long, medium, and short lengths and bound in 
bundles. These bundles are steamed for a few minutes in a steam- 
ing bath specially constructed, and dried in a sunny situation for 
three days, when they are fit for keeping to be manipulated according 
to the condition of the weather, if favorable or unfavorable. If good, 
settled weather is anticipated, three bundles of the stems above men- 
tioned are made into one bundle, exposed to the sun by turning upside 
down once a day for about three days, then dipped into water and 
exposed again to the sun for a number of days, until they are com- 
pletely dried, when they are kept in a dry place for future work. 
For preparing the best quality of hemp fibers, the drying process takes 
thirty days, and for second and third qualities, fifteen and twenty-five 
days, respectively, are required. For separating hemp fibers from 
the stalk, the bundles treated as above mentioned are immersed in 
water and moderately fermented by heaping them upon a thick bed 
of straw mats in a barn specially built for the purpose. The number 
of hours depend much upon the temperature at that time; in short, 
the fermentation requires great skill. When the stalks are fermented 
to a proper degree, the fibers are separated by hand and immersed in 
water, the outer skin is scraped off by hand tools specially constructed, 
and dried in well-ventilated places by hanging the fibers on bamboo, 
without exposing to the sun. 



It is said that nearly 300 patents nave been issued in the United 
States for machines for breaking hemp, many of them having proved 
absolute failures, Avhile none of them have filled the requirements of 
an economically successful hemp-cleaning device. The fact remains, 
therefore, that the Kentucky hemp grower of to-day relies upon the. 
rude and clumsy five-slatted hand brake of his grandfather's time, a 
device similar in all respects to that used for the same purpose at the 
present time by the hemp farmers of Brittany. In Kentucky the 
breaking is an expensive operation, costing $1 to $1.25 per short 
hundred pounds of fiber. The work is performed in the winter by 
negroes, and the best workers will not average more than 150 pounds 
in a day. In a former report on this subject a homemade machine 
employed for the purpose in Illinois was described as a very large 
brake with fluted rollers, the flutes being from 1£ to 2 inches deep. 
The cleaning cylinders were 5 feet in diameter of any desired width, 
with crossbars alternating with loose wings. In the crossbars were pins 
that acted as combs, these being about three-quarters"of an inch long 
and bent back slightly. Under the cylinders Avere slats 2 inches apart 
through which the refuse fell. One cylinder was used close behind the 
brakes. The other two cylinders had each one pair of rollers in front 
to hold the fiber while the shive, or waste, was being cleaned out. The 
fiber was not delivered straight, but it was claimed that twine manu- 
facturers preferred this product to straight Kentucky hemp fiber on 
account of its superior strength. 

A number of patented machines possessing more or less merit 
have been brought to public notice in the past four or five years, 
several of which have been examined by this Department. In this 
brief account of the cultivation of hemp it is not important, how- 
ever, to go into details concerning their merits or demerits, and the 
subject is left for future consideration. For the same reason no 
mention has been made of recent experience in the cultivation of 
hemp in the South and in California, though many facts of general < 
interest might be presented. 

The market prices for American rough hemp at the present time 
may be stated at $70 to $80 per ton for Missouri, and $125 per ton for 
Kentucky. No recent figures are at hand showing cost of produc- 
tion, but in 1890, counting a man and team worth $3. 50 per day, the 
cost of producing an acre of hemp in Kentucky was shown to be 
about $24. The average yield is about 1,000 pounds per acre, but 
this is frequently exceeded by several hundred pounds. 


By Thomas Shaw, 
Professor of Animal Husbandry, College of Agriculture of the University of 


The term Canadian field peas, or, as it is more commonly expressed, 
"Canada field peas," is used with much latitude in this country. Ask 
a pea grower in the United States as to the variety of seed which he 
sowed and the almost invariable answer given is: "I sowed Canada 
peas." That may mean that he grew any one of nearly one-hundred 
varieties. The answer is significant. It implies, first, a great lack of 
knowledge with reference to varieties on the part of those who grow 
peas, and, second, that much of the seed used in the United States is 
imported from Canada, although we have large areas unrivaled in their 
adaptability to the growing of peas. 

The pea crop is one of the most important in Canada. In the Prov- 
ince of Ontario alone the average area devoted to the production of 
peas for the thirteen years ending with 1894 was 691,392 acres. The 
average annual yield during the period named was 13,982,527 bushels, 
or an average of 20.2 bushels per acre; the greater portion of this crop 
's fed upon Ontario farms. 

In striking contrast with the magnitude of the pea crop in Canada 
is its insignificance in our own eountry. While the area devoted to 
peas in Ontario is not far behind that devoted to winter wheat, the 
pea crop is so insignificant, relatively, in this country that it has not 
been given a fixed place in the Government crop reports. In Minne- 
sota it is not mentioned in the yearbook of statistical returns, and 
the same seems to be true of nearly all the States in the Union. We 
are to-day importing much of our seed from Canada, in the face of 
an import duty of 20 cents per bushel. 


No other grain crop except perhaps oats can be devoted to so great 
a variety of uses. The grain is possessed of a relatively high feeding 
value, and the same is true of the straw, as will be readily apparent 
by reference to the chemical analysis of each. As a pasture for cer- 
tain kinds of live stock, peas may be made to serve an excellent pur- 
pose. The value of the crop for soiling and fodder uses is very great, 
and as a fertilizing crop peas are excelled only by clover. 



There is no kind of live stock on the farm to which peas can not 
be fed with positive advantage when they are to be had at prices not 
too high. They are not commonly fed to horses, since they can sel- 
dom be spared for such a use, but they make a good food for horses 
at work, and colts during the period of development, if given as a 
part of the grain food. As a food for fattening cattle, peas are prob- 
ably unexcelled. Much of the success which Canadian feeders have 
achieved in preparing cattle for the block has arisen from the free 
use of peas in the diet. During the first part of the finishing period 
they will be found peculiarly helpful in making beef, owing to their 
relative richness in protein, but they are also a satisfactory food at 
any stage of the fattening process. During the first half of the 
finishing period peas will be found superior to corn, but toward the 
close of the same corn could probably be fed with greater relative 
advantage. Peas with oats or wheat bran make an excellent grain 
food for cattle that are being fattened. Speaking in a general way, 
peas should form about one-third, by weight, of the meal fed, but, as 
every feeder knows, the relative proportions of the meal used should 
vary somewhat as the season of fattening progresses. 

Peas furnish a good food for milch cows. They have been found 
peculiarly beneficial for building up dairy cows when "out of condi- 
tion," and for sustaining them in fine form, and they are also excellent 
for milk production. When given along with oats and bran to cows 
in milk, they may usually form from one-third to one-half of the grain 
portion by weight. 

Peas, when fed with judgment and care, supply an excellent food 
for swine at all stages of development. They are well adapted to the 
sustenance of brood sows during the nursing period, for the reasons 
that have been given for their use with cows giving milk. With shorts, 
ground oats, or wheat bran, they may be made to form one-third to 
one-half the grain portion. Peas are superior to corn as a food for 
pigs at any time prior to the fattening season; hence they may be fed 
to them more freely, but in no instance should they form the sole ration 
before the finishing period begins. During the fattening period peas 
are unexcelled when fed as the sole grain food. They promote growth, 
while they fatten in excellent form, and they furnish a sweet, firm, and 
excellent quality of pork. 

Along with oats, in, say, equal parts, by weight, peas make good 
grain ration for ewes in milk, and also lambs, more especially when 
the latter are for the early market. They may be used in greater 
proportion to fatten ewes quickly after the lambs have been weaned. 
When sheep are being fattened for the block in winter, no grain food 
can be fed which will be found more suitable than peas and oats. 
When fed to sheep or poultry, or to brood sows in winter, peas do not 
require to be ground. For all other live stock it is considered advan- 
tageous to grind them, but in some instances they are soaked for 


feeding to swine. When so prepared, they are frequently fed to 
growing swine when on pasture, and in order to insure due mastica- 
tion they should be fed on a floor. 

When pea straw is well cured, it is more relished by horses, cattle, 
and sheep than the straw of rye, wheat, barley, or even oats. Ani- 
mals which have never eaten it may not take kindly to it at first, but 
soon learn to eat it with a relish. The value of the straw, however, 
depends largely upon the stage at which the crop is harvested, the 
mode of harvesting, and the perfection of the curing process. Pea 
straw harvested rather under than over ripe, and then properly 
cured, will be eaten readily, but when allowed to get dead ripe, 
live stock will eat little of it unless compelled to do so by hunger. 
If harvested with the old-fashioned revolving horserake, so much of 
the soil adheres to the straw that it is not relished by any class of 
live stock; and when rain falls upon the straw while it is curing, 
it becomes bleached and loses much in palatability. Two or three 
smart showers falling upon pea straw greatly injure it. When 
cut with the scythe or the pea harvester, cured properly, and then 
housed or carefully stacked, the straw, except that of some of the 
coarsest varieties, is nearly equal to clover hay in feeding value, 
especially for sheep. 

Peas are more commonly used as a pasture when sown in conjunc- 
tion with some other kind of grain, and since they are more easily 
injured by the trampling of live stock than other grain crops, it is 
usual to pasture them only with sheep and swine. When sown with 
oats or barley, peas make a good summer pasture for sheep. The 
greatest objection to such pasture is in the earliness of the season 
at which it is produced. Of course, it may be grown later, but will 
not produce so abundantly. . One-fourth of an acre grown at the 
Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station in the spring of 1895, 
under the supervision of the writer, furnished pasture sufficient for 
one sheep for 345f days. The pasture was eaten down three times 
successively, with a suitable interval between each season of pastur- 
ing. The plat was then sown with rape, and this in turn was pastured 
off. The great value of peas as a pasture for swine is far too little 

Peas grown in conjunction with some other kinds of grain are of 
great value as a soiling crop, owing, first, to the larger yields obtained 
(from 10 to 20 tons per acre may be expected on average soils) ; sec- 
ond, to the high nutritive value of the food, combined with its palata- 
bility; and third, because of its timeliness. This crop is ready as 
soon as the spring grasses begin to fail, and it may be made to con- 
tinue in season until corn is ready. It is excellent for all kinds of 
live stock, but especially valuable for dairy cows. 

The advantages resulting from growing peas in conjunction with 
other grains for fodder are many. They include the following: First, 
2 A 95 8 


larger yields may be obtained from growing these mixtures than by 
growing the grains used in them singly, and the increased yield 
extends to the grain as well as to the straw; second, when fodder is 
thus grown it may be fed directly to the animals; it is not necessary, 
usually, to chaff it with the cutting box, and the labor and cost of first 
thrashing and grinding the grain are avoided; and third, a pasture 
crop, such as rape or rye, may follow the same season. Such a sys- 
tem will be found most helpful as an aid in destroying weeds. As 
the relative areas adapted to growing these foods far exceeds those 
adapted to growing peas for the grain, it is probable that in the near 
future they will be most extensively grown for soiling and fodder 

Like all leguminous crops, peas have the power of extracting nitro- 
gen from the air and of depositing it in the soil for the use of other 
crops which follow. Hence it is that the soil on which a crop of peas 
has been harvested is richer in nitrogen than before the peas were 
sown upon it. In this we have one explanation of the practice which 
became general in Ontario, of following peas with winter wheat. 
Peas could thus be made to bring more nitrogen to the soils of this 
country every year than is now purchased annually by the farmers 
at a cost of millions of dollars. 


That so valuable a crop should not have received more attention is 
indeed surprising. Chief among the reasons why it has been so neg- 
lected are the following: The lack of knowledge as to its merits, the 
difficulty in procuring seed, the want of suitable machinery for har- 
vesting the crop, and the small measure of attention given to it, rela- 
tively, by the experiment stations. But little is known of the value 
of the pea crop by the average farmer. 

The scarcity and costliness of seed have hindered many from grow- 
ing peas. The average prices paid to seedsmen in the United States 
during recent years for good, clean seed have been from $1 to 11.25 
per bushel. The Ontario farmer usually raises his own seed or buys 
it for about 1 cent per pound. Suppose a farmer should buy but 1 
bushel of seed and sow it with care : he may expect in the autumn 
10 bushels of seed wherever the conditions are favorable to growing 
the crop. Why should not farmers generally raise their own seed 
peas ? 

The lack of suitable machinery for harvesting peas has probably 
more than anything else hindered the extension of their growth in 
the United States. Where peas have to be harvested with the scythe, 
they are not likely to be grown to any considerable extent; but, as 
shown elsewhere, pea harvesters are now in use in Ontario which 
will cut a field of peas as quickly as a field of hay of equal area could 
be cut. 


Very little attention has been given to this crop by the experiment 
stations of the continent. But little that can be regarded as of much 
value to the farmer is to be gleaned from the reports. The Ontario 
station, at Guelph, is an exception. The writer, when in charge of 
that station, imported many varieties from Europe and other countries 
for experimental uses, and the cooperative experiments with the best 
of these varieties, which have since that time been carried on by the 
farmers in various parts of Ontario, have been of great value in deter- 
mining the most suitable kinds for the different sections of the coun- 
try. Here is a field for experimentation in which the several stations, 
more especially those of the North, can render most valuable service 
to the States in which they are located. 


Without any doubt there are vast areas in our favored country 
well adapted to growing peas as a grain crop. But the areas in which 
the crop can be grown for pasture, for soiling uses, and for fodder 
are vastly greater, as heretofore intimated; for where they can be 
successfully grown as a grain crop they can also be grown for the 
other uses named. In the present state of our knowledge it would 
be impossible to name exactly all the areas in which peas can be 
successfully grown for any of the uses mentioned, and it would be 
even more hazardous to specify where they can not be grown. But 
these areas may be defined in a general way. 

Peas can be successfully grown as a grain crop throughout New 
England. They are successfully grown in northern Michigan, north- 
ern and eastern Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota. They will also 
grow well in North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washing- 
ton. In northern Ohio, southern Michigan, southern Wisconsin, 
and southern Minnesota they are not so sure a crop as in the areas 
named, but sometimes they produce well. 

Southward from the States just named peas can not always be 
depended on to yield well. The summer temperatures are too warm 
for them. Even though they should produce a good crop of straw, 
if a hot wave should pass over them while in bloom, they would 
not fruit well. But in all this section of country great use can be 
made of peas when grown with other crops for pasture, for summer 
feeding, and for fodder. Still farther to the south the wisdom of 
giving much attention to this crop is open to question; the Southern 
cowpea has taken its place there. 


In discussing the growing of peas as a grain crop, problems relat- 
ing to soils, rotation, tillage, seed, varieties, harvesting, storing, and 
thrashing require to be considered. 


Adaptability in soils. — Peas may be grown successfully on a variety 
of soils, but those designated clay loams, and which are well supplied 
with lime, are best adapted to their growth. However, good crops 
may be obtained on the stiffest clays. The potash element in these 
favors the growth of peas. Light, leachy sands, being deficient in 
moisture, do not produce enough of growth of vine, and black humus 
soils produce too much. Overwet soils are wholly unsuited to the 
growth of peas. 

Place in the rotation. — Theoretically, peas should not come after 
meadow or pasture, since they are capable of gathering nitrogen from 
the atmosphere, and in consequence do not need the sustenance fur- 
nished in the decay of grass roots so much as other grains; but in 
practice they serve the end of quickly subduing such soils by pro- 
moting the rapid decay of the sod and so putting the land in excel- 
lent condition for the crop which follows. Peas may be assigned any 
place in the rotation, but the aim should be to ha,ve a grain crop fol- 
low which is hungry for nitrogen. 

Preparing the land. — In climates where peas can be grown at their 
best, namely, climates with low winter temperatures, the land for 
peas, as for nearly all grain crops, should be plowed in the autumn ; 
but peas will do better than the cereals, relatively, on spring-plowed 
land. A fine pulverization of the soil is advantageous, but it is not 
so necessary for peas as for other grain crops, since the pea is a hardy 
and vigorous grower. 

Sowing the seed. — Some writers advocate sowing the seed broadcast 
and then plowing it under. On heavy soils this method would bury 
the seed too deeply. On prairie soils it promotes the rapid evapora- 
tion of soil moisture. On fall-plowed lands the better plan is to pre- 
pare the seed bed by pulverizing it and then to sow the seed with the 
grain drill. When broadcasted and covered with the harrow only 
and rain follows, much of the seed will be exposed ; but the writer 
has grown excellent crops on spring-plowed stiff clays from hand 
sowing without any previous pulverization. When such lands are 
carefully plowed, the peas fall in the depression between the furrow 
slices, and the subsequent harrowing covers them. Peas should be 
buried less deeply on stiff clays and more deeply on the soils of the 
prairie. The depth may be varied from 2 to 4 inches. The pea crop 
should be sown as soon as the soil can be worked freely; but it will 
suffer less, relatively, than the other grain crops if the sowing has 
to be deferred. In sections where the pea weevil (Bruchus pisi) is 
prone to injure the crop, late sowing will shield the same from harm, 
but there remains the danger of loss from mildew. 

The quantity of seed required will vary with the character and con- 
dition of the soil and with the variety of seed sown. Rich and moist 
soils do not require so much seed as where the opposite conditions 
prevail. The amount of the seed sown should usually increase with 


the size of the pea. The quantities to sow per acre will vary from 2 
bushels with the smaller varieties to 3| bushels of the larger sorts. 
One great difficulty to be encountered in growing peas on prairie soils 
is the usual luxuriance of weed life, but this may be held in check 
by harrowing the crop before it appears above the surface. Har- 
rows with teeth which may be set aslant are the most suitable for 
the work. 

Varieties to sow. — The most suitable varieties of peas to sow will 
depend somewhat on soil and climatic conditions ; and the best way, 
probably, to determine which kinds are best suited to the varied con- 
ditions of each State would be through experimentation on what may 
be termed the cooperative plan, as practiced in Ontario. This plan 
in outline is as follows: The station furnishes the seed of a number of 
proved varieties to farmer^ in different sections of the country. These 
varieties are to be grown under similar conditions, and they are also 
to report the results to the station at a given date. The results are 
then summarized and made public. The farmer keeps the grain which 
he grows as his compensation. 

Several varieties were thus tested in Ontario in 1894. The three 
which stood first in point of yield were the Prussian Blue, Canadian 
Beauty, and Tall White Marrowfat. The respective average yields 
were 27.9, 27.1, and 26.8 bushels per acre. The yields of straw were 
not far different, nor was there much difference in the average time 
of maturing. The Prussian Blue is one of the most hardy, prolific, 
and reliable sorts grown in Ontario. The peas are blue in color and 
they weigh well. This variety also gave the largest average yields in 
the cooperative experiments of 1895. The Canadian Beauty is a 
handsome pea, white in color, and somewhat large in size. The Tall 
White Marrowfat is of large size and it is a vigorous grower. The 
four best yielding varieties grown at the Ontario experiment station 
for four years ending with 1894 are the Early Britain, White Wonder, 
Mummy, and Prussian Blue. The average yields were very similar. 
The Early Britain, imported from England in 1889, has proved a uni- 
formly good yielder, but the peas are a little brownish in color and 
somewhat irregular in shape. The White Wonder, imported from 
New Zealand in 1890, is a very promising variety. It is a free grower, 
a good yielder, and the pea itself is attractive in appearance. The 
Mummy, a well-established variety, is a strong grower, but the straw 
is coarse. The pods are much prone to cluster about the top of the 
vines. Among the other useful varieties grown at the Ontario sta- 
tion are the Centennial White, Cleveland Advancer, and the Golden 
Vine. The last named is an old standby. When farmers speak of 
"Canada peas" they have reference probably to this variety more 
often than to any other. All the varieties named should do at least 
fairly well in the New England States, and in northern Michigan 
and Wisconsin. Through the various States of the Northwest the 


following varieties stand high in favor with the farmer, namely, the 
Chancellor, the "White Marrowfat, and the Black-Eyed Marrowfat. 
The Chancellor is an early and productive variety. 

Harvesting the crop. — Until recent years the pea crop was har- 
vested with the scythe or with the old-fashioned revolving hayrake. 
The first method is slow; the second shells out many of the peas, and 
it so covers the vines with soil as to render the straw practically unfit 
for use. Happily a pea harvester has been introduced by the aid of 


I Fio. 46.— Pea harvester. 

which the crop may be harvested speedily and in excellent condition 
on level soils. It is simply an attachment to an ordinary field mower, 
as shown in fig. 46. 

The guards in front lift up the peas so that the knife can cut them 
cleanly. The cut peas fall behind the mower in a string-like row, or 
swath, and two men with forks bunch them and lay them aside out of 
the way of the horses. Three men and a span of horses may thus 

Fig. 47.— Pea harvester with platform. 

harvest 10 acres in a day. This attachment for harvesting peas is 
made in Canada, and those now in use in the West have all been im- 
ported. On rear-cut mowers a platform is sometimes used, as shown 
in fig. 47. 

With this attachment, one man walks behind and with a fork 
throws the peas off in bunches. But the platform is of doubtful 
advantage unless the crop is evenly ripened, not too heavy, and free 
from standing weeds of strong growth. Where the land has been 



plowed in ridges, with furrows more or less deep between them, the 
working of the machine will be seriously interfered with. 

Storing the crop. — It is usual to turn the bundles over once to facil- 
itate drying while they lie on the ground. They require hand load- 
ing. The crop may be stored under cover or put into stacks, as with 
other grain, but it should be borne in mind that peas when in the 
stack do not readily shed rain, and therefore the stacks should be 
carefully topped out with some substance, such as blue grass or native 
prairie hay. When the thrashed straw is preserved in stacks the 
same precautions are necessarj^. 

Thrashing the crop. — Where only a small quantity is grown annu- 
ally, and this with a view to provide seed to sow for pasture, soiling, 
or fodder uses, there is no better way of thrashing the peas than by 
using a flail or by treading them out with horses. The seed is not 
then broken. Where a large acreage is grown, it is necessary to thrash 
peas Avith a thrashing machine, and the best work is done by using 
the "bar concave," as 
shown in fig. 48. 

From this concave 
all the teeth should be 
removed except four. 
These hold the straw 
in check long enough 
to enable the cylinder 
teeth to beat out all 
the peas. The ma- 
chine should not run 
at a high rate of speed. 
More or less of the 
seed is likely to be 
broken. The broken grains, however, may be nearly all removed when 
preparing the crop for seed or for market by using fanning mills suit- 
ably equipped with sieves. When the crop is wanted for feeding 
uses, the breaking of the peas does not, of course, lessen its value. 

The great value of peas for various uses has already been dwelt 
upon. It only remains, therefore, to speak of the methods by which 
they are grown. 

When peas are grown in conjunction with other grain for pasture, 
the mixture should be sown somewhat thickly. For sheep 1 bushel 
of peas may be taken as the basis of the mixture, and from 1£ to 2 
bushels of other grain. When seed drills are used, the seed should 
be mixed before it is sown. Under other conditions it would be 
necessary to plow the peas in lightly, and then sow the other grain 
and cover it with a harrow. Peas and oats or peas and barley may 
be grown as a pasture for swine in the same manner as for sheep, 
but it is generally thought better to reduce the proportion of peas 
when the pasturing is to begin at an early stage in the growth of the 
plants, as swine break down the pea vines to a greater extent than 

Fig. 48.— Single concave thrashing machine with four teeth. 


sheep. Hitherto it has been common to sow peas alone as a pasture 
for swine, and to defer pasturing them until the peas in the pod are 
about ready for table use; about 2 bushels of seed per acre will suffice. 
Swine should be accustomed to such pastures by degrees, because the 
sudden change of diet might be injurious to them. The season of 
pasturing may be prolonged by sowing the peas at successive periods, 
with a due interval between them. 

When peas are grown as a soiling crop, the relative amounts of 
seed used are much the same as when they are sown to provide pas- 
ture for sheep, and they are also sown in the same way. Oats, how- 
ever, is the favorite grain to mix with the peas, and the proportions 
of seed used per acre are usually 1| bushels of the former to 1 bushel 
of the latter; but no definite rule can be laid down as to the rela- 
tive amounts of seed that should be used when growing these mix- 
tures for soiling or for fodder uses. The richer the land the larger 
the proportion of the peas that should be used, lest the oats should 
unduly overshadow them. Every farmer will have to determine for 
himself the relative quantities of seed which will best suit his con- 

The cutting and feeding of the crop may commence as soon as the 
heads of the oats begin to appear, and it may be continued until the 
crop is approaching maturity. "When not all wanted for soiling uses, 
the residue -may be cut and cured for winter feeding. Generally the 
best yields will be obtained from the seed sown earliest in the season. 

For this purpose the same methods of growing peas may be adopted 
as when they are grown for soiling uses, with the difference that more 
varieties are frequently used. The harvesting should take place when 
the dominant grain used in the mixture is nearly but not quite ripe. 
When the respective quantities of seed have been correctly adjusted, 
the crop can be harvested with the binder in a normal season, but in 
case it should be thrown down by storms the mower would then have 
to be used. 

It has already been stated that the pea crop brings nitrogen to the 
soil, and is therefore a fertilizer howsoever it may be grown; but its 
value in fertilizing and also in improving the mechanical texture of 
the soil is greatly enhanced when it is grown as a green manure. 
When soils become so impoverished that good crops can not longer 
be grown on them, they may be quickly renovated and also cleaned 
by plowing under a pea crop preceded by winter rye. The rye 
should, of course, be sown in the autumn, and plowed under in the 
spring when the heads begin to appear. The peas should be sown 
immediately, and in turn plowed under when in bloom. Ground 
thus treated would be fertilized and cleaned in one season. Its tilth 
would be much improved, and its power to hold moisture would be 
greatly increased. To a farmer in the dry Northwest the benefit 
last mentioned would probably be the greatest. The high price of 
the seed at present stands seriously in the way of growing peas 
expressly for fertilizing uses. 


By L. R. Taft, 
Professor of Horticulture, Michigan Agricultural College. 

The success of irrigation in the so-called arid regions of the West, 
where the rainfall is often less than 10 inches, has led farmers and 
gardeners of the Eastern and Central States to consider the advisa- 
bility of securing water artificially to aid. in carrying their crops 
through periods of drought. While much can be learned from West- 
ern irrigators, the conditions are so different at the East that the 
processes have to be greatly modified. 

If water can be supplied artificially at a reasonable expense, a sea- 
son of drought is not without its advantages: (1) There will be no 
lost time from rainy days; (2) with a proper supply of water in the 
soil, a better growth can be secured in warm, sunny weather than 
when it is cloudy or rainy, and not only will the size, numbers, and 
appearance of the fruits be increased, but the quality will be im- 
proved; and (3) there will also be less injury by insects and fungi. 


Some crops evaporate from the leaves an amount of water equal to 
two hundred to three hundred times the weight of the dry matter 
which they contain. It is estimated that the corn crop gives off water 
fco the extent of thirty-six times its green weight, or 540 tons from the 
crop on 15 acres, which is sufficient to cover an acre, of land to the 
depth of more than 5 inches. There is also considerable loss from 
the soil by evaporation. This varies with the nature and condition 
of the soil, the amount of water present, and the character of the sea- 
son, but experiments indicate that 1 inch per week during the sum- 
mer season would be a fair average. To this must be added at least 
5 inches in an annual rainfall of 35 inches to compensate for the loss 
by drainage and percolation. It must also be remembered that a large 
part of the annual rainfall comes in winter, when the ground is frozen, 
and there is a large loss at that time, to say nothing of what runs off 
at other seasons. In a general way it may be said that, under aver- 
age conditions, full crops of vegetables and fruits can not be secured 
with a rainfall of less than 35 inches, one-half of which should be 
evenly distributed over the six months from March to August. 
2 a 95 8* 233 


Since it is profitable in the West to apply water to the full amount 
required by crops, it will certainly pay in humid sections to supple- 
ment an occasional deficiency to the extent of from 2 to 5 inches. 

If it is desirable to use water with profit for garden crops, a source 
for the supply should first be fixed upon, and while it must be a sup- 
ply that will furnish the required amount in a time of most severe 
drought, the cheapness with which the water can be brought upon 
the land should also have consideration. 

In some locations water can be obtained from town or city water- 
works, and, unless a very large quantity is required, it will often be 
cheaper than to put in an independent pumping plant. Artesian 
Avells or never-failing springs afford a cheap source of water, especially 
if the water can be carried to the land by gravity. Lakes or streams 
from which the water may be conducted upon the land can occasion- 
ally be found, and, if sufficiently near, will form an extremely cheap 
source for water supply. As a rule, however, even if the water is 
available, it is below the land and some method of raising it must be 
employed, so that the cost of pumping machinery will need to be con- 
sidered. Driven wells can generally be relied upon in the absence of 
any of the above sources of water supply. They are in successful 
use for this purpose in many places, the water in some cases being 
obtained within a few feet of the surface and in others at a depth of 
100 feet. Where the wells need not be more than 60 feet deep, and 
where the water stands within 40 or 50 feet of the surface, the cost of 
raising it will not be excessive. If one well does not supply the 
desired amount, several may be driven and attached to the cylinder 
of one pump. 


For irrigating purposes the pumping apparatus must be of such 
a nature that it will raise the large amount of water required at a 
small expense, and at the same time be strong and durable. 

Some of the hydraulic rams comply with the above conditions. 
They work automatically and without expense, being driven by the 
force of the water. Where a suitable water supply and a sufficient 
fall can be secured, enough water can be thus elevated for a consider- 
ble area if a reservoir for its storage is provided. If running water is 
at hand and the lift is not great, some form of water wheel which is 
arranged either for lifting the water directly or for operating some 
special pumping machinery may be used. The endless-chain-and- 
bucket machinery also answers well for small lifts. The hot-air 
pumping engines are also adapted to this work upon small farms. 
They are cheaply operated, requiring but -little attention or fuel, are 
perfectly safe, and will handle from 100 to 1,000 gallons of water per 
hour, according to the distance it has to be lifted and the size of the 
engine. When the water does not have to be raised over 50 feet, 
the centrifugal pumps may be used with excellent results. They are 


comparatively cheap, quite durable, and may be obtained of a capacity 
to handle any desired quantity of water. While lifting pumps require 
the water to be quite clean, there is less necessity of it in the case of 
the centrifugals. The rotary pumps have a similar use. 

Of the lifting pumps there is a great variety, but some of the forms 
with large cylinders, commonly called irrigation pumps, should be 
used. They answer well where but a comparatively small amount of 
water is required and where it has to be drawn from a considerable 
depth. For very large pumping plants some of the direct-acting 
steam pumps have been used and they supply the water at a low cost. 

In a few cases the pumps mentioned above require no outside 
power, but in the centrifugal and lifting pumps some motive power 
is necessary. 

The windmill is generally regarded as the cheapest power for light 
work where regularity is not essential, and is largely used. The mod- 
ern galvanized steel mills, upon steel towers, are quite durable, and, 
provided they are double geared, will run in very light winds. In 
sections where the wind has a velocity of 8 or more miles per hour, 
for an average of at least eight hours per day during the summer 
months, they furnish a cheap source of power for irrigating gardens 
of from 1 to 3 or perhaps 5 acres in proportion to the distance the 
water is lifted. They are used principally with lifting pumps. From 
the fact that the working of the mill is likely to be intermittent, a 
storage reservoir is necessary in connection with such a plant. 

Gasoline engines have an advantage over steam in that they do not 
require regular attention, are perfectly safe, and are less expensive to 
run. For small pumping plants and up to 10 or 15 horsepower they 
will be found well adapted. While steam engines will not be desira- 
ble ordinarily, except perhaps for supplying water for large areas, 
or when needed for other purposes, there are conditions that would 
favor their use. For fruit and most other crops it is seldom that more 
than two or three applications are necessary in a season, and it will 
be cheaper in most cases to hire a portable engine for the few days it 
will be needed than to buy an engine of any kind. In all of the 
Western States, traction thrashing engines may be readily obtained, 
at a small rental, as they usually stand idle except during the thrash- 
ing season. 


The method by which water will be carried upon the land will 
depend largely upon the surroundings. If there is a large amount of 
water and an easy grade can be secured, it may be carried in open 
ditches, which can be easily excavated with a plow and scraper. 
Vitrified sewer pipe may be used if the ground is uneven, but will 
not be desirable if there is over 10 or 15 pounds pressure. Where 
the distance is not great, or if the pressure is considerable, particu- 
larly if the water is pumped, riveted sheet-iron tubing or steel gas 
pipe can be used. These are readily put together and taken apart 


as desired, and gates and water plugs may be attached at will. If 
arrangements are made to drain the pipes, or if they are taken np in 
winter, they may be placed upon or near the surface. 

The size of the pipes needed will depend upon circumstances. For 
tracts of from 5 to 10 acres a sewer pipe 4 inches in diameter is desir- 
able, although a 3-inch pipe would answer if there is a fair fall. 
When iising iron pipe, the size of the distributing pipes, upon tracts 
of a half acre or over, should be 2 or, better, 2t|- inches. For the main 
supply pipe from the pump or reservoir a somewhat larger size will 
lessen the friction and increase the capacity of the system, but if the 
distance is considerable it will cause a large outlay, and it might be 
cheaper in the end to use a smaller size and take a little more time. 
While a 4-inch pipe would be desirable, a 3-inch one would answer 
for from 20 to 100 acres. The branch pipes in small gardens may be 
as small as 1 inch, although a larger size is desirable. Wooden or 

sheet-iron flumes may 
also be used for carry- 
ing the water. 

The supply pipe or 
ditch should take the 
water to the highest 
point of the tract to be 
irrigated, and, if the 
land is uneven, with 
several knolls, a branch 
pipe should be carried 
to each of them. If 
there is one point from 
which the water will 
flow over all others, it 
can be distributed from that point in flumes or ditches to the furrows 
and thus spread over the land. While this will lessen the expense if 
pipes are used, it will be better not to attempt to water more than 1 
or 2 acres from a single hydrant. If applied from a hose, it is not 
desirable to have the hydrants more than 200 feet apart, requiring a 
hose 100 feet long. For a tract not over 200 feet wide and from 300 to 
500 feet long, measuring down the slope, a single hydrant at the middle 
of the upper side will be sufficient. A regular hydrant can be con- 
structed if desired, but if there is a T with a gate valve at the point 
where the hose is to be attached, it will answer every purpose. 

One of the best methods of distributing the water from the hydrants 
is by the use of wooden troughs (fig. 49). They may be put up per- 
manently along the head of the rows, or may be made portable in 
sections of 16 feet. They should be from 6 to 8 inches square inside, 
or 8 inches deep if triangular. Along one side, at intervals of from 3 
to 20 feet, according to the crop for which they are to be used, there 
should be holes from 1£ to 2 inches in diameter, closed by zinc or gal- 
vanized sheet-iron gates (fig. 50). The troughs should stand nearly 

Fig. 49. — Square trough for distributing water (section), 
sliding zinc on galvanized iron gate. 



level. If the land slopes there should be an occasional drop in them. 
To control the flow of the water wooden sliding gates are desirable 
at frequent intervals and at the end of each section of trough. By 
means of the small gates the water can be distributed to a number of 
rows at a time and the flow can be regulated at will. A 2^-inch dis- 
tributing pipe under a fair head will supply from 6 to 10 rows, using 
full-sized openings, while if they are only half open from 10 to 20 
rows can be watered that are from 150 to 400 feet in length, according 
to the character of the soil. If the gates are 3 feet apart this will 
supply water for one-eighth to one-half an acre, and will require, to 
properly water this area, from one to three hours, reckoning upon 
a flow of 100 gallons per minute and an application of from 900 to 
1,000 gallons per acre, or a little more than enough to cover it to the 
depth of 1 inch. 1 

When a sufficient amount of water has been applied to any of the 
rows, the gate can be 
closed and another 
opened. In a small gar- 
den a similar but 
smaller trough can be 
employed to good effect, 
but not over one or two 
gates can be used at 
one time from a three- 
fourths-inch hydrant, or 
two or three from a 1- 
inch hydrant. 

Instead of the trough 
an iron pipe can be run 
along the head rows and the water applied through small faucets 
placed at proper intervals. 

If neither troughs nor pipes are used, an open ditch can be run 
along the head row and this will serve the same purpose. If ditches 
are used, it is desirable that small wooden boxes, closed at one end 
with a sliding gate, be placed at points where the water is to be drawn 
out, but the water is often applied by making openings in the bank 
through which it can be drawn. 


For properly irrigating tracts of much size, a large amount of water 
should be available, in order that it may be turned upon the land in 

'It requires 27,154 gallons, or about 850 barrels, to give an inch of water over 
an acre. The miner's inch, used in the West as a unit of measurement, is the 
amount that will flow per minute through an opening 1 inch square -with a head of 
4 inches— about 9 gallons. A cubic foot of water per second-foot, which is also 
used as a measure for water, represents a flow of about 50 miner's inches, or 450 
gallons, per minute. 

Fig. 50.— V-shaped trough (section). 


considerable quantities ; and unless the pumping apparatus will sup- 
ply a steady stream of 100 to 200 gallons per minute ; a reservoir or 
tank is desirable, except in small gardens. "While iron or wooden 
tanks will be best for small amounts of water, basins can be made for 
large areas by throwing up embankments of soil, and rendering them 
water-tight by means of cement, tar, or clay. In most parts of the 
country care is necessary to keep the cement and tar from cracking 
in winter; clay will answer nearly if not quite as well. The reservoir 
should be located upon the highest point of ground near the land 
to be irrigated. The bottom of the reservoir should be as little as 
possible below the surface, in order that a fall may be secured, and 
the walls should not be more than 5 or 6 feet high, with a slope of 
about 20 degrees. The top of the embankment should be from 2 to 4 
feet wide, according to the size of the reservoir. If the soil is not of 
rather stiff clay, it should be covered to the depth of 3 or 4 inches 
with clay, and after this has been worked until it is fine, water should 
be admitted sufficient to form a thick mortar, when it should be thor- 
oughly puddled over the bottom and sides. The water should be 
drawn out from the reservoir through an iron pipe laid at the bottom 
of the embankment, this to be provided with a valve by which the 
flow of the water can be regulated; and to prevent the water of the 
reservoir from soaking out along the sides of the pipe, it should be 
laid in grout where it passes through the embankment into the reser- 
voir. Unless the reservoir is filled with water during the winter it 
will require puddling every spring. 


Having the water upon the land, it can be applied in various ways. 
Flooding, or allowing the water to spread over the surface to the 
depth of from 2 to 10 inches, was formerly extensively used, but it is 
now employed only for grain and similar crops. The most common 
method for vegetables and fruits is to make furrows and run the water 
along in them, so that it can soak into the soil. If properly arranged, 
the water can not spread upon the surface, and, by turning back the 
furrows as soon as the water has soaked in and cultivating the soil, 
the moisture can be prevented from evaporating. For large areas, a 
shovel plow is the best tool for making the furrows, although if the 
soil is loose a man with a hand plow can do as. good work, while a hoe 
or shovel will answer in small gardens. 

Care should be taken to so lay out the rows in the orchard or garden 
that the furrows for the water can be run at a very slight slope, 2 or 
3 inches in 100 feet being all that is desirable, while 1 foot in 100 feet 
is an extreme slope. With a little care in laying out the furrows 
water can be used upon land that, at first sight, it will seem impossi- 
ble to irrigate. If there are slight irregularities in the surface that 
can be scraped off without materially injuring the land, it will be best 
to remove them. When the land is rolling, basins or checks may be 
used, especially in orchards. 


Subirrigation is the term applied to tlie running of water through 
pipes laid below the surface of the ground and allowing it to soak out 
through cracks or holes made for the purpose. The pipes are gener- 
ally common drain tiles, from 2|- to 4 inches in diameter, laid at depths 
of from a few inches to 2 or 3 feet. Particularly upon muck or 
swampy land, if they are placed at a considerable depth, they will do 
good service as drains, besides distributing water in dry seasons. By 
having the ends of the lines of tile open into a ditch, the water can be 
carried off when there is a surplus, while, by damming the ditch and 
filling it with water, the tiles will carry it back for several hundred 
feet and moisten a space upon either side of from 15 to 40 feet. They 
should be placed 12 inches deep, in garden loam soil at a distance 
of 12 or 15 feet apart, but in very light sand or stiff clay shorter 
intervals will be advisable. The tiles should have a very slight slope, 
for if there is much head the water will^break out unless they are laid 
at a considerable depth. Several lines may be joined to a larger line 
laid across their ends, although if each line of tile is supplied inde- 
pendently, a more even distribution will be obtained. "While it will 
vary considerably with the soil, a half -inch stream will suffice for 100, 
a three-fourths-inch for 200, a 1-inch for 400, and a l|-inch for 1,000 
linear feet of tile. 

In laying the tiles a small opening should be left between them at 
the lower side, and this will allow the water to pass out freely with- 
out admitting the soil. Under ordinary circumstances there will be 
no trouble from the clogging of the tiles with roots. 

It is claimed for this method of watering that it requires less water 
and that after the tile is in place less attention is necessary. Upon 
a small garden where the water supply is small, or if it is delivered 
in small pipes, this method of watering is of value, as the water 
needs only to be turned on and it will distribute itself without fur- 
ther attention. 

While there is a saving of labor in distributing the water, the cost 
of tiles and the expense of laying them makes this method much 
more expensive than furrow irrigation. Except as mentioned above, 
subirrigation has few, if any, advantages over furrows for fruits and 
the ordinary garden crops. As water can be applied in furrows for 
fruits or large areas of vegetables at from 50 cents to $1.50 per acre, 
according to the crop and the amount of water available, one can not 
afford to go to the expense of fitting the land for subirrigation, except 
where the tiles are needed as drains. 

For flower beds and lawns, where water can not be applied in fur- 
rows, tiles can often be used to good advantage. Placed at the depth 
of 1 foot and as nearly level as possible, they will distribute the water 
quite evenly over a space from 8 to 16 feet in width. For short 
lengths the flow of the water should be restricted to the amount that 
can be given off by the tiles. 


Sprinkling upon the surface can often be used to good advantage 
upon sandy loam soils where the surface is so uneven that the water 
can not he run in furrows. Considerably more water will be required 
than when the water is run in furrows, as the evaporation will be 
much greater, and the applications will have to be much more fre- 
quent. A number of large revolving sprinklers can be operated at 
one time, and as each will cover a space of 3 or- 4 square rods a 
considerable area can be watered in one day. 


The artificial application of water to vegetables will be found 
profitable, not alone because of its use in times of severe drought, but 
because vegetables have so large a money value that the proper use 
of water will mark the difference between complete success and 
entire failure, and will well repay the cost of applying it. 

For crops grown in rows more than 2 feet apart, the water can be 
run in furrows made a few inches from each row while the plants are 
small, and halfway between them when they have filled the ground 
with their roots. For narrower rows, down to 16 inches, it will answer 
if furrows are made in every second row, while for crops grown in 
very close drills irrigation may be provided for by leaving a slightly 
wider space every fourth row in which to run the water. When the 
crops are sown broadcast, the water may be applied by making fur- 
rows from 4 to 10 or even more feet apart, and it will be of far more 
value than when 'spread upon the surface. This is a far better way 
than the old plan of throwing the land up into beds about 12 feet 
wide, with a ditch along the center from which the water could both 
soak into the soil and run over the edges upon the surface. 

Upon muck land a fairly even distribution can be obtained when 
the furrows are several rods apart, but more water will be required 
and it may take several days for it to soak through the soil. 

If the ground is so dry in the spring that the seed are not likely to 
germinate evenly, it will be a good plan to plow furrows every 4 feet 
and then turn on the water so as to thoroughly wet down the land. 
This should secure a good stand, and it will seldom be desirable to 
use water again until the plants have several true leaves. 

Before transplanting it is quite important to have the soil moist, and 
if water is run on the previous day in furrows where the rows are to 
stand, the soil will be in good condition. For plants like tomatoes, 
which are set at wide intervals, holes may be made with a spade, in 
which the plants are placed and the soil packed about the roots. The 
holes should then be filled with water and the planting completed as 
soon as the water has soaked in. 

The condition of the plants is the best indication of the necessity 
for applying water. If in a time of drought the leaves wilt or curl, 
or take on an unnatural, dark color, water can generally be used to 


advantage. Although one or more waterings ai'e occasionally neces- 
sary while the plants are small, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, and similar 
crops are more likely to suffer from lack of water after the fruits and 
tubers form, and it should then be used in liberal quantities. For all 
such crops it is seldom desirable to irrigate while the plants are in 
blossom, as it tends to start a new growth and prevent setting. After 
the crop has set, particularly in case of the potato, no check to the 
growth should be allowed from lack of water, as when it is applied, a 
new growth will start, a second crop will set, and the result will be a 
large number of small potatoes. 

In arid sections an approximate estimate can be given as to the 
number of applications required by the various crops, but in the 
humid portions of the country this is not possible. In some seasons 
the amount of rain may be ample, while in others from one to five 
applications of 800 to 1,500 barrels per acre can be made to advan- 
tage. More than this amount should not be applied at one time as, 
if heavy rains follow, the ground may be saturated. Even with the 
most thorough cultivation, anywhere from a half inch to 2 inches of 
water per week can be used to advantage by vegetables during May, 
June, July, and August, and, unless the natural supply available 
approximates that amount, it should be supplied artificially in pro- 
portion to the character of the soil and season and the needs of the 
crop, 1 inch being taken as an average for each application for good 
garden soils. Care should be taken to prevent the flowing of the 
water over the surface, and particularly from coming in contact with 
the stems and leaves of the plants. After each watering and after 
every rain the ground should have a shallow cultivation, and this 
should be repeated at least once a week. 


For orchards as well as for other crops it is better to use a number 
of small streams rather than one or two strong ones, as there will be 
less washing of the soil, and a more even distribution of the water 
can be secured. A flume or head ditch will aid very much in secur- 
ing this. 

In locating the rows such an arrangement should be made as will 
secure a proper slope for the furrows, which should be from 1 to 6 
inches in 100 feet (fig. 51). While the trees are small a furrow upon 
either side of each row will answer, but as the roots spread, additional 
furrows 3 or i feet apart should be made, until finally the entire space 
is irrigated. Too much water and too frequent applications are more 
likely to be harmful than too little water, and ordinarily there will be 
no necessity for watering until the fruit is half grown, and from one 
to three applications, the last one not later than the middle of August, 
in o/der to allow the growth to ripen, will usually suffice. The use of 
water during a week or two before and continuing until two weeks 
after blossoming is not desirable. 


Great injury is often done by the drying out of the trees in winter, 
and if the autumn is very dry it will he well to irrigate the trees just 
before the ground freezes. The amount of water required by orchards 
is from 1 to 2 inches at each application, while the frequency of water- 
ing must depend upon conditions. When a loam soil taken from a 
depth of 5 or 6 inches will not pack in the hand, it is an indication 
that water is needed. Ordinarily once in from two to three weeks is 
as often as water need be applied. While a fair amount of water 
will increase the size and improve the quality and appearance of the 
fruit, an excess will lessen the size and injure the quality. 

Basins or checks can often be used to advantage when the ground 
is uneven or sloping. They are formed by scraping the soil away 
so as to form ring-like depressions about the trees, into which the 
water is turned. They should have a diameter equal to that of the 
branches, and the amount of water used should be sufficient to cover 
the area occupied by the roots to the depth of at least an inch. 


Pig. 51.— Irrigating young orchard with furrows, o, sluice ; 6, head ditch ; c, furrows. 

Where water is not at hand for irrigating, good results can often 
be obtained by hauling it in tanks or barrels and running it into the 
basins, using from 1 to 2 barrels for each peach, pear, or plum tree 
from 5 to 10 years old. As soon as the water has soaked in, the dry 
soil should be replaced to prevent evaporation. 

The method of watering strawberries and other small fruits is not 
unlike that used for vegetables. The water is run down the center 
of the rows in furrows, or, better yet, close alongside the rows. If 
the ground is very dry in the spring, a good watering may then be 
given, but after growth has started no water should be given until 
the fruit has set, after which the irrigation may be kept up as needed 
at intervals of two or three weeks until the fruit is gathered. All 
except the grape may need an occasional application after that time, 
and if the ground is dry as winter comes on an application at that 
time is desirable. 



The expense of an irrigating plant and the cost of operating it will 
depend upon the distance the water has to he raised and carried to 
get it upon the land, as well as the method of moving it. A windmill, 
with pump, well, and reservoir, suitable for from 3 to 5 acres, should 
not cost more than from $300 to $500, if the water does not have to be 
raised more than 40 feet, and there would be comparatively little 
expense for operating it. A pumping plant, operated by a steam or 
gasoline engine, suitable for 20 acres and capable of supplying 50 or 
GO acres, would cost perhaps $1,000. The cost of fuel for the latter 
would perhaps be 15 cents per acre for elevating the water required 
for one application, reckoning it at 1 cent per horsepower for each 
hour operated, while for the steam engine it would be about twice 
that amount. Using a steam engine and a centrifugal pump, water 
for one application for 10 acres can be raised 40 feet for about $4, 
including cost of attendance, and $5 will distribute it upon the land, 
making the cost, aside from the interest upon the investment, rather 
less than $1 per acre. With a gasoline engine it would be $1.50 for 
fuel and $5 for applying the water, or 65 cents per acre for each 


At the high estimate of $1,000 for a pumping system for 20 acres 
and of 10 per cent for interest and depreciation of machinery, irriga- 
tion is certainly a good investment for fruits and vegetables, as num- 
berless instances could be given where the gains in a single season 
from the use of water repaid not only the expense of operating, but 
the entire cost of the plant. The expense for a steam pump is figured 
at 90 cents per acre, and with a gasoline engine at 65 cents, for each 
application. If water is used three times during the season, it will 
make the cost for an acre $2.70 and $1.95, respectively, for the two 
systems. - Adding 10 per cent of the cost of the plant, or $5 per acre, 
it gives $7.70 for steam and $6.95 for gasoline engines as the entire 
cost of irrigating an acre of land three times in a season. When 
steam is used, it costs no more for attendance and but little more for 
fuel to pump the water for 10 acres per day than for 2, so that the 
cost for small areas would be slightly more, but $10 per acre would 
be a high estimate when the conditions are fairly favorable. 

The irrigating system at the Michigan Agricultural College has the 
past summer given good illustrations of the benefits of irrigation in a 
dry season. It covers 10 acres of small fruits and vegetables, and has 
a 3-inch supply pipe from the river, with 2^-inch distributing pipes 
leading to hydrants at convenient points. The power is supplied from 
the regular pumping station, so that definite figures as to cost and 
expense of operating can not be given. 


The crop of small fruits was greatly injured by frost, but where 
water was used no ill effects from the drought were observed, although 
the unirrigated sections were so dry that the crop was ruined. 

Careful records were kept of the yield of the various vegetable 
crops, and the results from the use of water, as compared with unir- 
rigated plats, showed a decided gain. In every instance the plats 
without water were given the advantage in soil and location, if there 
was a difference, and probably profited to some extent from seepage 

The tomatoes and potatoes were irrigated four times, and the other 
crops received three applications of about 1 inch each. 

The cabbage crop suffered most of all, perhaps, as where water 
was not used less than half formed heads of marketable size, and 
these were small. Of the Early Jersey "Wakefield there were 5,000 
more marketable heads per acre obtained by the use of water, and 
the weight was 11,325 pounds greater. The Henderson Early Summer 
showed a gain of 4,826 heads and 21,959 pounds in weight. At 2 
cents per head the gain per acre would average nearly $100. A gain 
of 200 bushels per acre was obtained with the irrigated tomatoes, 
which at 25 cents per bushel would amount to $50, or five times the 
expense of applying the water. Snap beans showed a gain of 300 
bushels, and early peas of 100 bushels per acre. Some of the potatoes 
were watered twice before blossoming, others twice after blossoming, 
and a third lot four times — twice before and twice after bossoming. 
The gain upon the latter was 129-J bushels; two early waterings gave 
a gain of 42J bushels, and two late applications showed a gain of 50£ 
bushels over unirrigated plats. 

Particularly in the case of peas, beans, and cabbages, the increase 
in the quality was nearly as marked as in the quantity. 

Similar results have been obtained by several of the experiment 
stations, and in many instances market gardeners and fruit growers 
who have practiced irrigation have made an even better showing. 


From the very nature of the case, plants grown under glass can not 
obtain a supply of water either from the clouds above or from the 
underlying soil, and if they are to maintain their growth it must be 
applied artificially. The common method of applying it through a 
hose or from a watering pot requires a man of experience and good 
judgment, as it is desirable to apply enough to moisten the soil with- 
out saturating it. Surface watering at the best packs the soil, thus 
preventing its proper aeration, promotes the development of slime 
and mosses upon its surface, and, particularly during the cloudy 
days of winter, keeps the surface of the soil in a damp condition, 
although the roots may be suffering from lack of water. In many 
cases, too, the water lodges in the axils of the lower leaves of the 


plants, and by keeping thein moist promotes the development of the 
spores of parasitic fungi. 

To lessen the labor of watering greenhouses, various sprinkling 
arrangements have been tried. Some of these consist of sprinklers 
that can be moved from point to point in the houses, while others are 
arranged at intervals upon pipes so as to water considerable areas at 
one time. While some of these arrangements may be labor savers, 
they have all of the disadvantages of surface watering; while the fact 
that all parts of the house may not require the same amount of water, 
and that unless carefully watched a surplus of water is likely to be 
applied, renders them impracticable. 

Greenhouse subirrigation. — During the past four years various 
methods of applying the water below the surface have been tried and 
for many crops have shown decided advantages over surface watering. 
The first attempt at greenhouse subirrigation was made under the 
direction of Prof. W. J. Green at the Ohio Experiment Station, in 
1890-91, with the hope of preventing lettuce rot. The result upon the 
growth of the plants was so marked that it was repeated upon a larger 
scale and with a variety of plants. Similar experiments have been 
tried and the results published by the West Virginia and the. Michigan 
experiment stations. 

While applicable to pot plants, it is generally used for those planted 
out in beds. These may be raised benches made of wood, or of iron 
supports wi,th tile or slate bottoms, or they may be what are termed 
solid beds, resting directly upon the soil. In either case they should 
be practically water-tight. With wooden benches it is desirable that 
the supports should be close enough to prevent the sagging of the 
boards. The bottoms were formerly made of clear, matched lumber, 
laid in white lead, but for several years ordinary barn boards free 
from loose knots have been used at the Michigan Station. If these 
are laid close together and firmly nailed to the stringers to prevent 
their humping, they will, when wet, swell sufficiently to close the 
cracks. The writer generally lays the boards across the beds upon 
stringers running lengthwise of the house. To close the remaining 
cracks and to preserve the lumber it is well to coat the inside of the 
bed with a cement made of one part of water lime and three of sharp' 
sand. This should be made into a thick paste and spread over the 
surface about one-fourth of an inch thick. For a bed with tile or slate 
bottoms a similar covering will render them sufficiently tight (fig. 52). 

In case a solid bed is used, a tight bottom about 8 inches below the 
intended level of the bed is necessary. If the subsoil is stiff clay, it 
may be puddled and will then hold water, but it will generally be 
better to spread an inch or so of gravel and, after thoroughly ramming 
it, to place over the surface three-fourths of an inch of cement pre- 
pared as above. The beds should have sides of the same material 3 
inches high. 


The best way of distributing the water is by means of 2-|-inch drain 
tiles, placed either lengthwise or across the beds at intervals of 3 or 4 
feet. If the line is not over 50 feet in length, they may be placed 
upon a level, but for greater lengths the line should have a slope of 
1 or 2 inches in 50 feet. To learn if the water is circulating properly, 
it is well to make an opening into the tiles once in 20 feet, into which 
a small flowerpot can be set. In laying the tiles care should be taken 
that the cracks between them are of an even size. As a rule, it will 
be found that they have become slightly curved in baking, so that 
the ends are not square, and if the convex sides are placed upper- 
most there will be a small opening at the under side large enough to 
allow the water to escape freely. If thought desirable, several lines 


i i i < — r 



Fig. 52. —Water bench for greenhouse. 

of tile can be so connected at one end that they may all be filled from 
one hose, or faucets may be arranged so as to supply water in any 
desired amount to the different lines. The water can be admitted 
through sewer-pipe elbows, or by raising the end of the last tile so 
that it will show above the surface. 

One-inch gas pipes with one-fourth-inch holes every foot have also 
been Med at the Michigan Station. While good results were obtained, 
the openings frequently became clogged and the water was not given 
off as freely as when tiles were used, so that a longer time was required 
to water the beds. Besides being cheaper the use of tiles seems in 
every way preferable. 

In a general way subirrigation in greenhouses shows about the same 
advantages over surface irrigation as are found in the garden, but 
while the saving in time of watering and in the amount of water 
required is even greater in proportion, the direct benefits, especially 
reduction of time (10-25 per cent) required for maturing, are of still 
more importance. 


By B. T. Galloway, 
Chief of the Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, U. S. Department of 


The cultivation of plants in greenhouses, or, using the broader 
term, under glass, is rapidly assuming large proportions. In 1890 
there were 4,659 establishments in the United States devoted to 
commercial flower growing. These represented a capital of over 
130,000,000, and gave employment to nearly 20,000 men and women. 1 
Eighty per cent of this business was developed in the twenty-five 
years prior to 1890; in fact, it may properly be said that commercial 
floriculture, as existing when the foregoing facts were collected, was 
practically a creation of the preceding quarter of a century. For the 
past five years the business has been growing fully as rapidly as dur- 
ing any similar period, so that there is probably now no less than 
$35,000,000 or $40,000,000 invested in this work. It must be remem- 
bered that this represents only the commercial floral business. When 
we take into consideration the capital invested in the growing of veg- 
etables and fruits under glass, and that expended by amateurs and 
others not strictly engaged in commercial work, the aggregate sum 
invested will probably reach 150,000,000 or $60,000,000. 

As this work has grown and as its importance, has increased, the 
methods followed in the production of the various crops have under- 
gone most radical changes. Up to a few years ago the plants grown 
in nearly all ordinary commercial greenhouses were of a mixed char- 
acter. Roses, carnations, palms, and ferns might frequently be found 
in one house, where they were watched over and cared for by one or 
more men, without any systematic attempt at a division of labor, so 
far as the individual requirements of the plants were concerned. This 
practice was simply the result of the demands of the times, there 
being no occasion for a concentration of effort in any particular direc- 
tion. All this has changed, however, within the past few years, for 
with the advent of different ideas the public has become more crit- 
ical, and as a result specialization is now a marked feature of the 
business. With this feature becoming more and more prominent, 
competition is growing keener and keener, and greater energy must 
therefore be used in producing a crop that will not only hold its own, 
but will force its way to the front in the market. To accomplish this 

'U. S. Census Bull., Floriculture in the United States. 



necessitates a thorough knowledge of the requirements of each crop, 
how to keep each in perfect health, and how to manage the conditions 
so that the maximum of profit will be attained at the minimum of 
labor and expense. This knowledge can not be gained from books, 
but must be obtained by long experience and rigid attention to details. 
There are certain fundamental principles, however, which underlie 
all work of this kind, and a knowledge of these is often sufficient to 
make the difference between success and failure. It is of some of 
these principles that the writer proposes to speak, hoping that what is 
said will be of value to the ideal type of gardener — the man who can 
aid, guide, and advance his practical, intuitive skill by intelligence, 
foresight, and the ability to experiment and to profit by the work. 


The growth of every plant is influenced by numerous factors — soil, 
heat, light, water, and air all having their effects. As the factors 
vary so does the plant in its habit of growth, in the quantity and qual- 
ity of its fruit, leaves, or other parts, and in its ability to survive the 
influences which are constantly at work tending to destroy that which 
it has produced. The plant, in other words, is a constructive appa- 
ratus, governed by surrounding conditions over which it has no con- 
trol, but to which it can adapt itself within certain limits. 

If the conditions are properly regulated, an approximately ideal 
growth is attained. If, on the other hand, they are improperly fur- 
nished, the plant reacts to the influences and a departure from the 
ideal development is the result. This departure may be in the nature 
of a derangement of the functions of the plant and may result in 
sickness and death. The sickness may be simply due to a combina- 
tion of influences acting on the vital forces of the plant, or it may be 
brought on by the presence of living organisms, as, for example, 
insects, fungi, etc. In the latter case the relation of the host, or the 
plant attacked, to the organism attacking it is exceedingly compli- 
cated, but it is not the purpose to enter upon a discussion of that 
question here. Suffice it to say that the more nearly the ideal condi- 
tions of growth are approached, the less likely is the plant to succumb 
to attacks of such organisms. On the other hand, the departure from 
the ideal growth may be in different directions; in fact, the remark- 
able susceptibility of a plant to surrounding influences, or, in other 
words, its plasticity, is seldom appreciated. For example, an American 
Beauty rose grown under certain conditions may give buds 3 inches 
in diameter, with stems 36 inches long. A cutting from the same 
plant grown under different conditions may give buds only 1 inch 
in diameter, with stems correspondingly short. In both cases the 
plants are healthy in the strict sense of the word, but the usefulness 
of one is so much affected by its size and other characteristics that it 
may properly be said to have no market value. So far, therefore, as 


the commercial grower is concerned, such a plant as the one last men- 
tioned is lacking in health, for to him health means the most profitable 
and remunerative development. It is in this sense that we shall 
discuss the subject, pointing out, from the standpoint of physiology, 
some of the more important factors which lead to the highest and best 
development of the crop. 


One of the most important questions with everyone growing plants 
under glass is the soil, for upon a proper understanding of this de- 
pends in large measure success or failure in the work. While science 
has. done a great deal to advance our knowledge of the relation of 
soils to the growth of plants, there yet remains much to be accom- 
plished in the practical interpretation and application of the knowl- 
edge gained. The men to-day most familiar in a practical way with 
the requirements of different plants, so far as soils are concerned, 
are those actually engaged in agricultural and hortictiltural pursuits. 
By the appearance of the soil to the eye and by the way it feels when 
taken in the hand, a gardener can tell pretty accurately whether a 
certain soil will be suitable for a certain kind of crop. This knowl- 
edge is largely intuitive, and has been gained by long experience and 
close observation. 

Speaking generally, it may be said that the perfect development of 
any plant, so far as the soil is concerned, depends upon two funda- 
mental considerations: (1) The presence of the necessary amount of 
suitable food, and (2) the physical properties of the soil — that is, its 
texture and its relation to heat, air, and water. 

That growth is dependent on the presence of proper food in the soil 
is now well understood, but how to supply this food so as to obtain 
the largest yields at the least expense is a problem of the utmost 
importance to everyone growing plants under glass for commercial 
purposes. As the work is now carried on, there are' but few crops 
where it is practicable or desirable to add sufficient food at the start 
to carry the plant through the full season of growth. Feeding must 
be done through the entire growing period, and to do this properly 
is one of the most important problems with which the commercial 
grower has to deal. 

The relation of the physical properties of the soil — texture, temper- 
ature, and moisture — to plant growth is not so well understood nor 
appreciated. It is obvious that these are not intimately connected 
with the chemical properties (food supply) ; in fact, it is a matter of 
common observation that the mere presence of an abundant supply 
of food is not sufficient 4o make a good crop, even though other con- 
ditions outside of the soil are to all intents and purposes perfect. 
This is well illustrated in the growing of roses, carnations, and other 
flowers. Certain varieties of roses and carnations may be grown to 
a high state of perfection in some sections, using, of course, proper 


judgment and skill in the management of the conditions. In other 
sections, and they need not be remote, it is difficult to get a perfect 
crop, although the skill of the grower may be fully as great as in the 
former case, and the use of manure as food may have been fully as 
judiciously made. In such cases the texture and structure of the soil, 
which involve also the capacity of the latter for heat, moisture, air, 
etc., may be the basis of the trouble, and all these have a direct influ- 
ence on food supply. 

By texture is meant the character of the particles which make up a 
soil, while structure has to do with the arrangement of these particles 
and their relation to each other. The particles, or grains, of which 
soils are composed vary greatly in size, and to distinguish them they 
have received certain conventional names, such as clay, fine silt, silt, 
fine sand, sand, etc. The clay particles are extremely minute, silt 
grains are larger, and so on until we have coarse sand or gravel, with 
grains 2 mm. in diameter. l 

Upon the amounts of the various constituents present, i. e., clay, 
fine silt, silt, fine sand, etc., will depend the porosity of the soil, the 
readiness with which air penetrates it and water moves through it, 
its water-holding capacity, and, finally, its temperature. 2 

It will be seen, therefore, that the texture and structure of a soil 
have an important bearing on the development of the plant, affecting 
not only'the growth of the roots, leaves, stems, and flowers, but the 
relative proportion of these and their relation to each other. 

By varying the texture of a soil, its water content is varied, its 
capacity for heat is modified, and so on, until every important factor, 
including food, in the ordinary acceptance of the word, is involved. 
To these variations the plant adapts itself, and the result may be 
excessive leaf development, with few or no flowers, or vice versa; a 
weakened condition of the tissues, making the plant subject to the 
attacks of parasitic enemies, especially fungi, and so on through a 
list of other possibilities. To illustrate, we may have a rose grown 
in a soil of a certain texture and structure. The water capacity of 
this soil is most favorable for growth, and may be represented by 
10. The capacity for heat, permeability to air, and the readiness with 
which water moves through it are also ideal, and may each be repre- 
sented by 10. These conditions may so act on the food in the soil as 
to place it at the disposal of the plant in the most suitable form, so 
that food supply may also be represented by 10. Suppose, now, the 
texture of the soil is modified by the addition of clay: the water con- 
tent of the soil is changed, this in turn affects the access of air and 
also the temperature, and the food supply is involved by the effects 
of the different changes on certain soil organisms, which play an 
important part in the matter of food. As a result of these various 

1 "Whitney, Bull. No. 4, Weather Bureau, TJ. S. Department of Agriculture. 

2 Wollny, Experiment Station Record, 1893, Vol. IV, p. 529. 


combinations and changes, we may have the water capacity of the soil 
represented by 12; capacity for heat, permeability to air, readiness 
with which water mores, 8; food supply, 8, etc. It wiU thus be seen 
that the plant in this case has ah entirely different set of factors to 
which it must adapt itself, and in doing this it may so modify its 
development as to become unprofitable; that is, the new set of factors 
may give a good leaf development at the expense of flowers, or if a 
certain leaf development is wanted, as in the case of plants like let- 
tuce, the color and texture may be changed to such an extent as to 
make the crop unprofitable. 

It will, of course, be recognized that in the growth of plants under 
glass the conditions surrounding them are under far better control 
than those outside. Hence the gardener who grows plants in green- 
houses has a wider range in the use of soils than he who grows them 
outside, for if the texture is not exactly suited to the requirements 
of his plants, he may partly overcome the difficulty by the judicious 
use of water and rigid attention to other conditions. There is a limit, 
however, beyond which even he can not go, and the nearer he ap- 
proaches this limit the more care he must exercise in his work, other- 
wise the plants will suffer. The nearer the ideal soil conditions for 
each crop are attained, the less, other things being equal, will be the 
difficulties in the way of successful crop production. 

Owing to the fact that we have no definite rules to follow in this 
matter, it would be well for everyone growing plants on a large scale 
to have constantly under way experiments to obtain light on the sub- 
ject. Such experiments may be made on a small scale, will cost but 
little, and would doubtless be the means of bringing many interesting 
facts to light. Some soils that do not give the best results for certain 
crops might be greatly improved by the addition of clay, sand, or silt ; 
in fact, there is any number of combinations in this direction that 
might be used to advantage. 


The importance of water in the growth of plants under glass has 
already been briefly referred to in discussing the question of soils. 
It is hardly necessary to say that the proper use of this element is 
the keynote to success; in fact, it has been truly said that he who 
does not know how to water plants does not know how to grow them. 
No absolute rules can be laid down for the use of this all-important 
material, as knowledge on such matters can be gained only by expe- 
rience and the closest observation. 

As pointed out in discussing the soil, the amount of air it con- 
tains has an important bearing on the health and vigor of the plant. 
Water plays a very important part in this matter, for the more water 
there is in the soil the less space will there be for air. By the im- 
proper use of water, therefore, air is excluded from the soil and vari- 


eras complications are brought about, all of which directly affect the 
health, vigor, and productiveness of the plants. One of the results 
of the improper use of water in a soil naturally heavy is the forma- 
tion in the roots of plants of alcohol and other substances destructive 
to growth. The roots in such cases are slowly suffocated, and the 
gradual decline and death of the plant is the result. 

The improper use of water may affect plants in another way. The 
soil may be made a little too wet, and the air in the houses may also 
be oversupplied with moisture. These conditions are most likely to 
occur in winter. As a result of this certain changes are brought about 
in the tissues which make them more subject to the attacks of para- 
sites, especially fungi, and also render them liable to other injuries, 
such as burning, scald, spot, etc. 

Although not generally recognized, the method of applying water 
may have a decided effect on the growth of the plant by changing the 
structure of the soil, i. e., the arrangement of the soil grains and 
their relation to each other. It will be seen that the continuous and 
more or less forcible application of water to the surface of a soil on 
a greenhouse bench will have effects similar to dashing rains out 
of doors, that is, it will compact and puddle the soil and wash the 
smaller materials to the bottom, thereby changing its capacity for air, 
heat, etc., and thus directly influencing the development of the plant. 

The soil should be kept open at all times to the free access of aij . 
This may be done by keeping the surface stirred, by careful attention 
to watering, and, as is frequently done, by using a light mulch of 
manure or some suitable material to break the force of the falling 

The importance and necessity of a proper amount of heat and light 
in greenhouses are well understood. It is very often the case, how- 
ever, that the smaller details in matters of this kind are overlooked 
or neglected, and the plants in consequence suffer. Different plants, 
as is well known, require different temperatures for their best devel- 
opment. These differences, as is also well known, vary not only with 
different varieties and forms of plants, but also with the different 
stages in the growth of the same. The plant in its relation to heat 
has been likened to a steam engine. 1 When the tension of the steam 
is slight, the machine is barely able to overcome the friction of its own 
parts, and under such circumstances can do little or no work. As the 
tension of the steam is increased, the efficiency of the engine becomes 
greater and greater, until finally it reaches a point where the very best 
work is done. If the tension of the steam is increased beyond this 
point, the parts of the machine become strained, and the whole will 
eventually break down unless relieved of the pressure put upon it. In 
the case of a plant there is a point in the temperature barely sufficient 
to awaken the vital energies of the organism. With increasing heat 

1 Sachs, Physiology of Plants. 


the vital forces of the plant increase, until" a point is reached when 
the best growth is made ; beyond this point the plant suffers, and is 
eventually killed if the temperature continues to increase. 

In considering the question of heat, the importance of soil tempera- 
ture and its relation to the temperature of the air must not be over- 
looked. Unless the proper conditions are maintained in this respect, 
an ideal development can not be reached, and the plants, in addition 
to developing characters that make them unprofitable, are frequently 
made more subject to disease. A striking example of the latter is 
found in the case of lettuce when forced under glass. At certain 
stages of growth the plant in question is much subject to burn or 
scald, and for this reason it is often rendered wholly unfit for market. 
The burn is primarily brought about by the rapid evaporation of 
moisture from the leaves at a time when the roots are not able to sup- 
ply the demand for water. The temperature of the soil has a marked 
effect on root action, and in this way the supply of water made avail- 
able to the leaves is influenced. If the soil is cold, or, in other words, 
if the relation of its temperature to that of the air is improper, the 
roots can not furnish the water as fast as it is needed, and in conse- 
quence the tender tissues of the plant above ground simply collapse. 

The value of light in the growth of plants is not always fully appre- 
ciated. It is a common occurrence to see plants which require strong 
light for their development struggling for existence in dark houses 
half buried in the ground. Within recent years, however, there has 
been a marked improvement in the manner of constructing green- 
houses, and there is no doubt that the improvement in many of the 
crops now grown can be attributed to the recognition of the fact that 
properly regulated light is one of the fundamental factors in the 
growth of crops under glass. 

It must be borne in mind that we can have rapid growth even in 
feeble light, provided the necessary heat and other necessary condi- 
tions are present. Such growth, however, is not accompanied by 
proper nutrition and, if continued, the plant finally grows itself to 
death. A familiar example of this is found in the case of a potato, 
which may sprout and grow in a warm, dark cellar, and yet so long as 
light is excluded there is little or no actual gain in weight. Light, 
therefore, is the energy which builds up the tissues, and unless it is 
properly regulated the plant will eventually suffer. Although light 
is exceedingly important in the development of plants, it may act 
injuriously if too intense. This is frequently seen in midsummer in 
the case of plants growing out of doors, where the foliage, exposed to 
the full rays of the sun, fade out and turn yellow, the whole plant 
having a sick, leathery look, the leaves being smaller and the branches 
more or less stunted. The same thing may often be seen in green- 
houses, especially as spring advances and the light becomes strong. 
The necessity for properly regulating light by shading is here shown, 


but it is too often the case that proper judgment is not exercised in 
the matter. Remembering the role of light in the growth of plants, 
it will be seen that any attempt at lessening its intensity should be 
made gradually, so as to give the plant an opportunity to accommo- 
date itself to the changed conditions. 


"Within every plant there is an inherited disposition to develop 
along certain lines, and at the same time there are numerous influences 
operating from without which tend to advance, retard, or wholly restrict 
such development. It follows, therefore, that there is a constant 
struggle between the vital forces inherited by the plant and the con- 
ditions of its environment. In view of this fact, it will be seen how 
necessary and important it is to start with a plant having sufficient 
inherent force to enable it to attain the highest possible develop- 
ment. This, after all, is the basis of success, for if a plant possesses 
only sufficient inherent qualities to develop to a certain point, no 
amount of care, energy, or labor can, as a rule, make it go beyond that 
point. To understand this matter fully, we must look upon the plant 
not as an individual, but as a community of individuals, each of which 
is in a certain sense struggling for existence. This is the case with a 
rose, a carnation, a violet, or any similar plant which the gardener 
grows. Each joint of the stem with the leaf and bud attached will, 
as we know, grow into a new plant when placed under the proper con- 
ditions. This, therefore, is an individual, so far as we are at present 
concerned, and as such possesses certain characters which may or 
may not differ from all other similar parts of the parent plant. These 
characters may be in the nature of a more vigorous constitution, a 
tendency to throw larger flowers and many of them or the reverse, a 
predisposition to disease, an imperfect leaf development, and so on 
through a number of possibilities. 

It is hardly necessary to enter upon a discussion as to how these 
differences are brought about. Suffice it to say that they are not 
generally recognized; in fact, it is only when the changes are so great 
as to bring about an extreme form, or "sport," that attention is called 
to them. It needs little argument, however, to prove that they exist, for 
everyone who propagates plants by cuttings knows that hardly any 
two of them possess exactly the same characters. Starting with two 
rooted cuttings from the same plant, and growing them under as nearly 
the same conditions as possible, one may give a plant that will bloom 
freely, forming flowers of large size, and its leaf development may 
also be perfect, while the other may be a vegetable runt, lacking in 
vigor of ieaf and utterly unable to give anything but small and imper- 
fect flowers. The importance, therefore, of proper selection inpropa- 
. gating all plants by cuttings can not be too strongly emphasized. 



This is especially true in sucli plants as roses, carnations, violets, etc., 
grown for their flowers. 

In considering this matter, however, our first proposition must not be 
overlooked, viz, that growth is influenced by two forces, the inherited 
disposition Avithin and the conditions of the environment. The first 
effort, then, of the gardener should be to start with cuttings which he 
knows by observation will fulfill as nearly as possible the ideal condi- 
tions as regards vigor, the ability to flower, or whatever the require- 
ments may be. But this is not all, 
for the method of treating the cut- 
ting after it is removed from its 
vigorous parent may largely influ- 
ence its future growth and value. 
The cutting, so far as appearances 
go, when taken may be vigorous, 
yet its tissues may be immature or 
too old, and in either case a weak 
plant, if one is obtained, will, in 
all probability, be the result. We 
may illustrate this matter by the 
accompanying cuts (half natural 
size), made from photographs of 
violet cuttings of various kinds. 

Fig. 53 shows two cuttings, or 
rather two rooted offshoots, one- 
half natural size, of a plant which 
was in good health and was making 
growth rapidly. The probabilities 
are that these cuttings would never 
make good plants. The stems, as 
can be seen from the leaf scars, are 
hard, their tissues being fixed and 
almost incapable of further growth. 
The roots also are tough and hard, 
and therefore are of very little use 
to the plant. Such plants when 
set out may struggle along and live for a year, but will always be 
stunted and will seldom, if ever, pay for the space they occupy. 

In fig. 54 is shown another type of cutting, in this case immature or 
soft wood being used. Such cuttings are very likely to damp off while 
being rooted, and are also very subject to spot and other diseases. If 
successfully rooted they are apt to make plants that are weak, prone to 
disease, and lacking in ability to make good flowers and many of them. 
Fig. 55 shows another type of cutting, which may have vigor enough 
at the start, but which, owing to the way it is made, will never form 
a good plant. There is not sufficient stem to anchor the plant in the 

Fid. 53.— Violet cuttings from old wood. 


Fio. 54.— Violet cuttings 
from mature wood. 

Pio. 55.— Violet cutting 
with insufficient stem. 

ground and in consequence it will roll around, and every time a flower 
or leaf is pulled some of the roots will be broken. 

Fig. 56 shows an ideal type of cutting, one 
that tinder proper conditions of soil, moisture, 
heat, etc., will make a vigorous, free-growing 
plant. In this case the tis- 
sues were neither too young 
nor too old, and the mass 
of young, active, working 
roots is ready to begin work 
as soon as the plant is 
placed in the soil. 

In addition to the forego- 
ing considerations, the im- 
portant factors of water, 
heat, air, and light must 
not be overlooked in deal- 
ing with cuttings of all soft- wooded plants. The 
cutting, as soon as it is severed from the parent 
plant, becomes an independent constructive ap- 
paratus, and as such it must be surrounded with the proper conditions 
for work. Light is especially important, for here, as in the growth of 

the plant proper, it fur- 
nishes the energy for the 
manufacture of food, 
from which, in this case, 
the new roots are devel- 
oped. Briefly, every ef- 
fort should be made to 
surround the young 
plant with the very best 
conditions for its devel- 
opment, as a check at 
this time, while appar- 
ently a trivial matter, 
may in the end cut a seri- 
ous figure in the returns. 
We have now briefly 
reviewed some of the 
more important factors 
which may influence the 
vigor, productiveness, 

Fio.56.— Ideal type of violet cuttings from mature wood. , „, . , „ 

and profitableness of 
plants grown under glass. The man who would succeed in this work 
must by patience, vigilance, and constant care learn to see and feel 
what his plants require and spare no effort to meet their every need. 



By Albert F. Woods, 

Assistant Chief, Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, U. S. Department 

of Agriculture. 

The purpose for which any particular tree is grown must always 
be kept clearly in mind. If grown for wood, it will require one 
kind of treatment; if cultivated for fruit, it will require another; if 
grown for shade and artistic purposes, still another treatment may 
be needed. 

The tree, like any other plant, is greatly influenced by conditions 
of environment, such as light or heavy soil, the amount of water and 
air which the soil contains, the character of the subsoil, and the gen- 
eral climatic conditions of the region. It is necessary to know how 
the plant responds to these various factors, and how different com- 
binations of conditions produce different effects. Even after the 
grower has selected a tree naturally adapted to certain conditions, it 
will still be necessary to more or less control growth, according to the 
needs in view. 

Growth may be controlled in a number of ways, one of the most 
important of which is pruning or cutting off certain parts of the plant. 
No popular notion is more erroneous than that any person can prop- 
erly prune a tree, transplant it, or successfully care for it in other 
ways. The knowledge of the experienced horticulturist is often taxed 
to the utmost when dealing with these questions. It is folly, there- 
fore, to leave the care of trees to inexperienced men. The experi- 
enced grower does not blindly follow a set of rules in this matter. He 
has learned by observation to adapt his treatment to the varying 
needs of his plants, but his actions are governed by fundamental 
principles, and a knowledge of these would be a great help in enabling 
him to adapt the treatment to varying conditions. 

The purpose of this paper is to point out some of the principles in 
plant physiology upon which the practice of pruning depends, for the 
benefit of those who have not already learned by experience when to 
prune, how to prune, and how to care for the wounds produced. 


In practically all woody plants, except the palms and their relatives, 
four general groups of tissues may be distinguished in the trunk and 
branches, namely, bark, cambium, wood, and pith. These various 
A 95 9 257 


parts are shown in fig. 57, where it is seen that the hark, b, forms 
the outer covering; the cambium, c, is a thin, slimy layer between 
the bark and wood ; the wood, w, forms the greater portion of the 
stem; and the pith, p, makes up the central portion. 

The cambium is the most important of these tissues, from the stand- 
point of this paper. It is a thin layer, made of brick-shaped cells. 
These have very thin walls, which are easily torn, especially in the 
growing season. It is the cambium which gives way when the bark 
is stripped from the wood. During the growing season the cam- 
bium cells divide, giving rise on the inside to a layer of wood cells, 
consisting mainly of fibers and vessels or their equivalent, while 

toward the outer 
side at the same 
time a layer of 
bark cells is 
formed. A thin 
layer of cam- 
bium cells is left 
between the new 
bark and the 
new wood to re- 
peat the process 
of forming a new 
layer during the 
next period of 
growth. This or- 
dinarily occurs 
the next year, 
but may take 
place the same 
season, accord- 
ing to circum- 
stances. These 
layers are read- 
ily distinguished in most trees and shrubs, and are called annual rings 
(fig. 57). The bark layers are also in rings, but are usually less evident 
than the layers of wood. 

In all trees, except some. with smooth bark, the outer bark layers 
soon cease growing, and as successive ones are formed underneath, 
the outer layers are split and torn, and either peel off, as in the cherry, 
plum, sycamore, Chinese quince, birch, sassafras, etc., or remain and 
form roughened projections, as in all rough-barked trees, as shown in 
fig. 64. Sometimes these outer layers split with difficulty, thus sub- 
jecting the growing cambium to great pressure, often so great that it 
almost stops growth. Trees in this condition are said to be "hide- 
bound." The remedy is to scrape off the old bark or cut longitudinal 

Fig. 57. — Cross section of trunk of sassafras tree, photographed nat- 
ural size, b, hark; c, cambium; w, wood; p, pith. The annual layers 
or rings show both in wood and bark. 


slits in it, thus giving the underlying layers an opportunity to form. 
Only the outer bark should be scraped off, but the slits may be cut 
down to living tissue. The same end may be reached by fertilizing 
and cultivating the trees, thus stimulating growth. The cambium 
thus stimulated is able to break the outer bark. The cambium is the 
only tissue which retains the power of active growth. The wood and 
bark layers formed from it remain alive for several years after they 
have completed. their growth, but after this they die and become use- 
less except as protective and supporting tissues. There is an excep- 
tion to this rule in some smooth-barked trees, where the bark remains 
alive and retains the power of growth for many years. Except in the 
youngest twigs, therefore, the heartwood and all except the youngest 
sapwood is practically dead. The same is true of the outer bark 
layers where they remain attached to the stem during successive sea- 
sons of growth. Some of the inner bark cells outside the cambium 
retain the power of growth and produce cork cells. 


For the purpose of this paper, the root may be considered as sim- 
ply a branched extension of the stem under ground. The cambium 
of the stem, being continuous with that of the root, forms at each 
period of growth a layer of wood cells on the inside and bark cells 
on the outside. An old root, therefore, usually shows concentric 
layers, similar to those of the stem, the inner and older wood layers 
being dead, while those bordering on the cambium and a few deeper 
layers are living, as in the stem. The same is true of the bark. All 
except the younger layers have become corky and have lost the 
power of growth and of absorbing water. It is only the younger 
roots, with living bark, therefore, that are able to supply the plant 
with water and what is dissolved in it. If these feeding roots are 
destroyed or are very greatly injured in transplanting or in any other 
way, new ones will have to be produced before the plant can make 
any healthy growth. These new roots start from the cambium layer 
underneath the bark and most readily from the younger roots. In 
removing large trees or shrubs the feeding roots are often destroyed 
and the older roots may be very slow about sending out new ones, 
especially when the old roots have a strongly developed bark, when 
the soil temperature is too low, and when there is not enough mois- 
ture in the soil. If leaves are formed before the new roots are devel- 
oped, the moisture of the stem is soon exhausted and the plant dies. 

The most important point to keep in mind, therefore, in moving 
any plant is that it must have enough feeding roots to support top 
growth when it starts. To insure this, the top is usually cut back to 
correspond with the quantity of roots left. Some planters seem to 
think that this is all that is required. They cut the top down to a 
pole in late winter or early spring, chop the roots off a few feet from 


the trunk, and move the tree to its new locality. If it happens to be 
a tree like a pear or a peach, which produces new roots readily and 
has enough nourishment stored up in the trunk to furnish food for 
it and the new branches when they start, it may succeed in getting 
established before the hot summer weather comes on. However, if it 
is one of the harder woods (nut or ornamental trees) the chances are 
that under such treatment it will either die immediately or succumb 
after a struggle of a few years. In many such trees the feeding roots 
are far removed from the main stem, and so are almost entirely lost 
in taking out the tree, no matter at what time of the year it is 
removed. It is much better, therefore, to cut some of the main lead- 
ers back early in the fall, the year before removal, making the cut 
clean and smooth with a saw, if the roots are large. The new roots 
will often start during the fall, and if not in too cold a region will 
make some growth during the winter and a great deal during the 
following spring and summer. By the next fall a good supply of 
feeders will have started, and the tree may be quite safely moved to 
its new location without such severe cutting back. In the northern 
United States quite heavy mulching of transplanted trees is benefi- 
cial as a protection to the ground underneath from severe freezing 
and thawing. 

While what has been said applies particularly to transplanting 
rather large trees, it also holds good in putting out those kinds of 
nursery stock in which the root development is inclined to be slow. 
In moving evergreens greater care is necessary than in moving de- 
ciduous trees, as the constant presence of the leaves on the former 
always keeps up a continuous demand for water. 

In transplanting a tree or any other plant every root that is cut or 
broken should be pruned smooth, with as little injury to the remain- 
ing tissue as possible. The cambium layer thus exposed, and often 
the young wood and bark cells, grow over the wounded places, forming 
a cushion, or callus. The cambium layer between the modified bark 
and wood of the callus gives rise to new roots often more readily than 
the cambium of the older parts of the root, possibly on account of the 
greater resistance of the bark on the older portions. Where it is 
desired to hasten the development of secondary roots, it might pay to 
slit or partially remove the old bark at certain points, as in layering. 
It is always necessary to keep the wounded ends from drying out, 
because drying kills the cambium and so prevents the healing of the 
wound. To accomplish this it is only necessary to keep the roots in 
moist soil or in some place not exposed to dry air. 


From what has been said it is evident that root pruning, when prop- 
erly done, has its uses in connection with transplanting, but even here 
it may be looked upon as a necessary evil and is to be avoided to the 


greatest possible extent. The removal of dead or diseased roots back 
to living tissue is, of course, always proper. Such roots are never of 
any value to the plant, and are always a source of danger. If they 
are cut back to living cambium and sound wood, the wound will grad- 
ually heal by the production of a callus. A surface bruise, or wound, 
if it goes through to the cambium, should be cut back to living cam- 
bium on all sides with a sharp knife and the wound covered with moist 
soil. If it does not go through the bark, cork cells will be formed and 
it will require no attention. Root pruning is sometimes resorted to as 
a check to rapid top growth, especially in young apple trees in the 
nursery when attacked by twig blight. If carefully done, it may ac- 
complish the end sought without great injury to the young trees. The 
stimulus which it gives to the production of new roots close to the 
trunk is valuable, as such roots are a decided advantage to trees 
which are to be moved. 

Root pruning to produce fruitf ulness depends on the physiological 
principle which holds all through the vegetable kingdom, that a check 
to vegetative development induces the production of fruit. This 
check may be brought about in two very different ways: One is by 
giving a check to the whole plant, as is the case in root pruning or 
severe top pruning, which removes many leaves during the growing 
season and thus cuts down the food supply to the plant as a whole; 
the other way is to check the active growth in length of undesirable 
parts, thus leaving for other parts the nourishment which they would 
have used. The total food supply for the plant is not increased or 
diminished by this process, but the food is more generally distributed. 
The first method, viz, checking the plant as a whole by root pruning 
or severe top pruning during active growth, must be practiced with 
great caution, as such a check is liable to result in permanent injury 
to the plants. Pinching back to secure distribution of growth, how- 
ever, is a different matter, few leaves being removed in this process. 
In this case nearly as much sugar is made by the plant as before, 
and it is left for the use of lateral buds and the annual layer of wood 
and bark in process of formation. Many of these lateral buds starting 
at once will usually not make a strong vegetative growth, so that the 
fruit buds may start with a good supply of available food to draw on. 


The advisability of controlling the growth of a tree in any way 
depends upon circumstances. In nature the growth of all plants is 
modified and controlled to a large extent by conditions of environ- 
ment. Thus a certain tree in the open field may have a short, thick 
trunk and a spreading top, while the same kind of a tree in the forest 
has a tall, slender trunk and narrow top. Vegetation on the high 
mountain sides and dry plains is low and spreading, while in the 
moist valleys and canyons the same kind of plants are large and well 


developed. In growing trees and shrubs for shade or artistic purposes 
it is usually most satisfactory to give them the opportunity of doing 
their best in their own way. 

In most cases, however, it is not what a plant naturally does, but 
what it can be made to do, that makes it valuable. It is this making 
plants do what we want them to do that constitutes cultivation. Prun- 
ing is one of the most common and valuable methods of directing and 
controlling the energies of plants. Whether or not it may be necessary 
to control them in any given case depends upon whether or not, under 

given circumstances, it 
will increase the effi- 
ciency of the plant for 
the purpose for which it 
is grown. In all pruning 
the fact should be kept 
in mind that the leaves 
make nearly all the food 
used by the living cells 
of a tree. If the leaves 
are removed, the cells 
must undergo a corre- 
sponding process of 
starvation until new 
leaves are formed. 


Natural pruning is 
always taking place, 
especially in woody 
plants. The shedding 
of leaves and twigs is a 
familiar example. The 
death and gradual de- 
cay of branches, due to 
shading, starvation, 
crowding, freezing, or various mechanical injuries, may also be 
placed under this head. There can be no question but that the artifi- 
cial removal of all branches which are dead or dying is beneficial to 
the plant. In the natural shedding of leaves or twigs a layer of cork- 
like cells is formed between the part to be cut off and the parent plant, 
so that when the leaves fall the process of healing is very soon com- 
pleted. In the death or decay of branches, however, no such natural 
cutting off occurs. The old stub remains for a long time, gradually 
decaying down into the larger limb or trunk, so that when it does fall 
it leaves a hole, in which water may gather and rot-producing fungi 
and bacteria develop, and thus spread decay in the sound wood. Fig. 
58 shows a hole left by a limb which has decayed in this way. 

Fig. 58.— Trunk of maple showing hole left by decaying limb. 



If all such limbs were out off close down to the shoulder, or enlarge- 
ment, at their base, the living cambium and bark would heal the 
wound in the course of a few years, and the internal rotting would 
usually be avoided, especially if the larger wounds were painted over, 
as soon as dry enough, with coal tar. This kind of pruning, at least, 
is applicable and beneficial to all 
trees, no matter for what purpose 
they are being cultivated, and even 
if they are not being cultivated at 
all. It may be all that is required 
in park, shade, and ornamental 
trees, especially if the natural 
habit of the tree in question is 
suited, as it should be, to the lo- 
cality in which it is grown This 
is not the case very often, however, 
particularly in parks and along 
streets, where modified conditions 
may demand a different shaping 
of the tree. Any modifications 
necessary should be made here, as 
in all other cases, while the trees 
are young. If this precaution has 
been neglected, the change may 
have to be made in older trees. In 
this case it must be done gradu- 
ally through a series of years, as 
severe cutting back at one time is 
dangerous, and unless carefully 
followed up by judicious after- 
pruning scarcely ever results in 
anything but a brush heap for a 
top, and besides it weakens and stunts the future growth of the tree. 
Fig. 59 shows a soft maple cut off in this way and not properly cared for. 


In fruit trees especially, the object and value of pruning becomes 
most apparent. A fruit tree is in a certain sense a machine for manu- 
facturing fruit. The sole objects of its propagation and cultivation 
are (1) to obtain a plant that will do the best and most work for a 
given amount of money and labor expended upon it, and (2) to keep 
it in a condition so that it will continue to do this kind of work. 
Pruning is one of the most important means by which this is accom- 
plished. Pruning to shape the tree and keep it in shape is important 
so far as it relates to ease in cultivation, gathering the fruit, and 
spraying; also in relation to winds, supporting the weight of the 
fruit, protection of trunk and limbs from sun scald, etc. This includes 

Pig. 59. —Soft maple, dut back. 


also pruning to distribute growth from one part to another, cutting 
out undesirable branches to give room and nourishment to those 
which are desired, and checking terminal branches to induce the 
development of laterals. All this is to keep the tree vigorous and 
well supplied with thrifty, fruit-producing branches, and not allow it 
to spend more of its energy than necessary in making wood, for which 
the tree is not grown. The balance between vegetative and repro- 
ductive growth, or between wood and fruit, must be maintained. It 
is not, however, the object of this paper to give specific rules for 
securing these results, but rather to discuss the general principles on 
which such rules or practice should be based. 

The effect on the plant of pruning depends very largely upon the 
time at which it is done. If the new wood growth is checked by 
removal or in any other way during active development, the growth 
of flowers and fruit will be stimulated. On the other hand, if the 
growth of flowers and fruit is checked, vegetative growth will be stim- 
ulated. The most active and vigorous parts of a plant are the ones 
which will get the most nourishment. While these parts are making 
active growth, other parts will grow very slowly. The relation between 
vegetative and reproductive growth, however, is not wholly a matter 
of nourishment. 

There are two natural, inherent methods of reproduction in plants. 
The first is the production by the parent plant of vegetative buds, 
shoots, etc., which may be separated either naturally or artificially 
and new plants produced from them. It is this method of reproduc- 
tion that is stimulated when it is desired to propagate a plant rapidly 
by cuttings. Vegetative growth is therefore nothing more or less than 
vegetative reproduction, whether the buds and nodes produced are 
ever separated from the parent plant or not. The second method of 
reproduction is by the formation of seeds or fruit. The comparative 
strength of these tendencies depends on the age and environment of 
the plant and the purpose for which it is cultivated. In the case of 
annuals and biennials the life of the plant consists of two stages. 
During the first, the vegetative reproduction or growth predominates; 
during the second, reproduction by the formation of fruit predomi- 
nates, and after fruiting the plant dies. In perennials, such as our 
fruit trees, the same alternation between vegetative and fruit repro- 
duction may be traced, but it is more obscure, and the phases often 
overlap each other, because the ripening of the fruit is not followed 
by the death of the tree, but by a period of renewed vegetative 
growth. In fact, the two tendencies are present and active throughout 
the life of the plant, the one being predominant and then the other, in 
more or less regularly alternating periods. 

This periodicity between vegetative and fruit growth is what must 
be controlled by the successful cultivator, and pruning is often an 
important means to that end. If one kind of reproduction is getting 


too much the advantage of the other, it is only necessary to check 
the predominant one. Cutting off developing vegetative buds and 
branches, therefore, during the period of active vegetative reproduc- 
tion checks this phase, and the pushing of the fruit buds follows. 
Pruning to produce fruitfulness consists, therefore, in pinching or 
cutting off the terminals of rapidly developing branches. If the tree 
is a very vigorous one, new vegetative shoots may start from the lat- 
eral buds, and these will have to be pinched back in the same way. 
Whether or not this process will be necessary in order to regulate 
bearing will depend largely upon circumstances, such as the kind of 
tree, soil, climate, etc. The citrus fruits, for example, are not pinched 
back or headed in, because the fruit is borne near the ends of the 
branches and the proper balance between the fruit and wood growth 
is maintained naturally. The only pruning necessary in California 
and Florida for these fruits is to keep the inside of the top clean from 
dead and useless branches. In California most fruit trees are inclined 
to bear early and overbear, so there pruning during the growing sea- 
son is seldom practiced, except where it is necessary to check rapid 
growth. The same is often true with earlier varieties of fruits in the 
eastern and southern United States. 

Checking vegetative reproduction by root pruning has been suffi- 
ciently discussed in the first part of this paper. Another method often 
resorted to is to cut down the water supply by stopping cultivation 
and seeding to grass or clover or some deep-rooted crop which will 
dry out the soil, thus decreasing the supply of water to the trees. 
Grafting into a restraining stock, so much practiced in pear growing, 
where the trees so grafted are known as "dwarfs," is a valuable 
method of retarding vegetative development sufficiently to promote 
fruit development. 


With some fruit trees grown on a commercial scale the greatest 
difficulty is overbearing. The direct remedy for this rather desirable 
defect is to thin the fruit, or to remove it altogether in the case of 
very young trees, and to stimulate vegetative growth by pruning 
when the tree is dormant, as described later. The principles under- 
lying this practice are the same as have been discussed in pruning to 
produce fruitfulness, but the check in this case is given to the fruit 
instead of the vegetative growth. It is a common thing, especially in 
orchards which have been allowed to take care of themselves, to find 
trees bearing a large crop of fruit only every other year. The large 
crop exhausts nearly all the food made during the season, so that the 
vegetative growth following is slow and prolonged. The remedy of 
thinning in connection with pruning usually restores the balance 
between wood and fruit growth, and fruit of much better quality is 
produced each year, besides restoring the development of vigorous 
wood which may continue to bear satisfactorily. 


All the more general pruning for shaping the tree and keeping it 
vigorous and healthy is done during the dormant period in fall, win- 
ter, or very early spring. This, of course, does not check either phase 
of reproduction unless the fruit-bearing wood is all removed, as it 
sometimes is by inexperienced workmen. The purpose is to cut out 
all undesirable twigs and branches so as to leave all the stored-up 
food for the use of those left. Trees which have been stunted by 
overbearing, drought, or by any disease not permanent may be stimu- 
lated to produce vigorous new wood in this way. Careful and system- 
atic pruning during the dormant season is the means most commonly 
used to keep the tree well supplied with vigorous bearing wood and 
to maintain the proper proportion between vegetative development 
and fruit production. It is essentially the renewal system so well 
known to grape growers. 


Attention has already been called to the point that all limbs and 
branches removed should be cut close down to the shoulder, so as not 
to leave a "stump" which will not heal over. Fig. 60 shows an oak 
tree from which many of the upper limbs have been cut, leaving 
stumps. These ends are not healing, but are gradually dying down 
into the trunk. Some of the lower limbs have been cut properly and 
are already healed or in process of healing. 

The direction of the cut will depend largely on the position of the 
branch, but it shoiild always be sloping as much as possible, so that 
the water will drain off readily. It is very important that the healing 
process start soon after the wound is made, otherwise the cambium 
will dry out and die quite a distance back from the exposed edge 
of the wound, and after this healing will be greatly retarded. One 
of the dangers of winter pruning comes from the freezing and drying 
out of the cambium on the edges of the wound. This is least liable 
to occur in fall and very early spring pruning. At these times the 
healing growth of the cambium starts very soon after the wound is 
made. In cutting off very large limbs it is always difficult to keep 
the tissues on the lower part of the wound from being bruised and 
torn. Of course, a tree should never be allowed to get into a condition 
where it becomes necessary to remove a large limb. If the necessity 
should occur, however, two cuts should always be made, one several 
inches or a foot from the shoulder of the limb, to remove the weight 
and keep it from crushing the tissues which are to heal the wound. 
The piece left should then be cut close down to the shoulder, so that 
the healing rim may easily grow over the exposed surface. Large 
wounds should have the exposed surface protected by grafting wax, 
grafting clay, or burned coal tar. The first two mixtures are best as 
a protection against drying out; the latter is the best protection 
against the starting of rot in the wood. 



Surface wounds in the trunk or large limbs, if they do not extend 
through the cambium, will heal readily over the whole surface if they 
are kept from drying out. 
Grafting clay or grafting 
wax may be used as a dress- 
ing for this purpose, though 
the thick coal tar is just as 
good. If the wound ex- 
tends through the cam- 
bium, it will only heal from 
the edges. Dead or dis- 
eased tissue must be re- 
moved and the wound 
treated as if it were a large 
limb cut off, protecting the 
exposed surface with graft- 
ing clay or coal tar. If such 
wounds are not cleared of 
dead tissues, water collects 
under the bark, borers make 
it their starting point, fungi 
and bacteria develop, and 
the surrounding tissue rots 
as a result of their work. 
Wounds which have reached 
this condition can not be too 
quickly cleaned and put in a 
condition to heal. All holes 
should be plugged with 
wood. Fig. 61 shows the 
wood rotting where a large 
limb has been cut from a 
tubp tree and the exposed 
surface left untreated. The 
rotten wood should be 
cleaned out, the hole 
plugged with dry wood, and 
the surface covered with 
coal tar. If the coal tar had 
been put on soon after the 
limb was cut, no rotting 
would have occurred. 
Enough has been said to 
show clearly that a tree is 
a living, responsive organ- 
ism, and that it requires more careful and considerate treatment 
than it usually receives, especially in parks and along streets. 

Fig. 60.— Oak tree from which some of the lower limbs 
have been properly cut and most of the upper ones 
improperly cut. 



Grafting wax. — One of the best grafting waxes is made by melting 
together four parts by weight of resin, one part beeswax, one part 
tallow. When thoroughly melted, pour into cold water; when cool 
enough, take out and work by molding and pulling until it becomes 
quite stiff. It is necessary to have the hands well greased with tallow 

while handling this 
IH1 wax. 

drafting day. — 
One-third fresh cow 
dung, two-thirds 
clay, with a little 
plast er hair. Thor- 
oughly mix and al- 
low to dry until 
about the consist- 
ency of fresh putty. 
Coal tar. — Coal 
tar and pitch, mix- 
tures should be ap- 
plied to wounds 
after they have 
been cleaned, 
pared, and allowed 
to dry enough so 
that the material 
will stick. Thick 
tar is one of the 
most easily applied 
and best dressings 
there is. In Florida 
the coal tar is thick- 
ened by burning it 
in an iron kettle 
until it reaches the 
desired consistency. 
It is painted on the 
wounds while still 
slightly warm. 
Thus prepared, it 
dries quickly, form- 
ing a hard, glazed 
surface, which does not crack or peel off, as is the case with pitch, 
shellac varnish, paint, etc. 

Shellac varnish. — Shellac in just enough strong alcohol to dissolve 
it. This is a very good dressing for wounds, but it is more liable to 
crack and scale off than coal tar, and is more expensive. 

Showing where large limit has "been cut from tulip tree. 


By Herbert J. Webber, 
Assistant, Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, U. S. Department of 


The pineapple is indigenous to South America. For many years it 
has been generally recognized as one of the finest of the tropical fruits, 
and may be safely said to rank first among those supplied to the mar- 
kets of the United States. It is true that certain other tropical fruits, 
such as the mangosteen and durian, may probably be considered supe- 
rior to the pineapple, but as yet these have not been sent to American 


The pineapples consumed in the United States have been and are 
still largely imported, the West Indies and Bahama Islands being our 
main sources of supply. Three-fourths of the pineapple crop of these 
islands comes to our markets. It is estimated that Cuba alone sends 
annually about 1,200,000 fruits. The Bahama Islands export each 
year about 7,800,000 fruits, most of which are sent to the United 
States. San Francisco and the markets of the West Coast are largely 
supplied from the Sandwich Islands. 

For a number of years pineapples have been grown to some extent 
in Florida, but it is only within recent years that the quantity pro- 
duced has been worthy of consideration. During the last decade 
railroad extension and the improvement in shipping facilities gen- 
erally have led to a rapid development of the pineapple industry in 
the southern portion of the peninsula. In the year 1894, 56,209 whole 
or barrel crates, or about 3,000,000 fruits, were shipped from the State. 
In 1875 the number of imported fruits received at the port of New 
York was 5,785,755, and in 1882 the number received at the same port 
was only 2,533,320. -These figures are a good illustration of the rapid 
decrease in the number of fruits imported, and the correspondingly 
rapid increase in home production. 

The pineapple is a very tender fruit, and therefore easily injured. 
As the regions where it is grown are mostly isolated from general 
shipping lines, it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to secure 
proper means of transportation, and on this account Europe and North 
America have to be supplied by the pineapple regions lying near them. 



With proper refrigeration and fast steamers, however, the pineapple 
could be shipped safely from any part of South America to the United 
States or Europe. In Florida the growers have the advantage of being 
near the principal American markets and of having direct railroad 
communication with many of them, and notwithstanding the fact that 
they have to compete with foreign pineapples, which are now entered 
free of duty, the industry is considered very profitable in Florida and 
is rapidly growing. 


Pineapple culture, according to the statement of Mr. Reasoner, 1 
was introduced into Florida about the year 1860. 

The pineapple, which is strictly a tropical fruit, is very easily 
injured by low temperatures. Usually it is impossible to grow it in 

Fig. 82.— Field of pineapples growing under shed, showing newly set plants and illustrating the 

methods of setting. 

open field culture outside of the tropics, unless in regions protected 
by water and tempered by warm ocean currents, as in the case of 
the Bahama and Azores islands. The pineapple can not stand even 
a light frost. Selmer, in his Tropical Agriculture, cites Florida as an 
illustration of a region where light frosts occur and where pineapple 
culture consequently can not be made successful. However, in view 
of the thirty-five years' experience now had in pineapple growing in 
Florida, the gradual but very great extension of the industry, and its 
uniform success in the southern portion of the State, it is safe to con- 
clude that Selmer was somewhat hasty in his judgment. The pine- 
apple can not be successfully grown in all parts of the State, and the 
portions where open culture can be safely adopted are indeed limited. 

] Bull. No. 1, Division of Pomology, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 



This method of growing the fruit, however, has generally proved suc- 
cessful south of about 27° 30', below which frost seldom occurs, and 
has succeeded even 1 degree north of this in certain localities having 
water protection. 

If severe freezes were of common occurrence in Florida, pineapple 
culture would have to be abandoned, but fortunately the freezes of 
1886 and 1894-95 were the only severe ones which have taken place 
since the introduction of the industry. Certain localities have, how- 
ever, been injured at other times. In general, the Gulf Coast is 
slightly colder and more subject to injury during the lesser cold 
spells than the Atlantic Coast, and for this reason the industry has 
spread almost entirely on the Atlantic Coast. There seems to be no 
reason, however, why the pineapple should not be extensively grown 
in the vicinity of Myers and farther south, for although light frosts 

Pig. 63.— Field of Porto Rico pineapples at West Palm Beach, grown by open-field culture. 

slightly injure the leaves, they do not necessarily impair the fruiting 
of the plants the next year. 

In the early period of pineapple culture in Florida a considerable 
number of plants were grown in the central part of the State, in Lake, 
Orange, and Volusia counties. Although in this section it is frequently 
possible to secure three or four crops in succession in one season by 
covering the plants during the winter, as a whole the industry has 
proved unsatisfactory and has been largely abandoned. In ther vicin- 
ity of Orlando, however, the pineapple is grown by a few with appar- 
ently excellent results. Here the plants are grown wholly under 
sheds, which are ample protection against light frosts. Somewhat 
farther south, at Avon Park and Pabor Lake, in the central part of 
the State, the industry has spread considerably, nearly 100 acres being 


now planted. In this section open culture has proved fairly success- 
ful, but as yet is in an experimental stage. 

At present most of the pineapple fields of Florida are located on 
the east coast south of Fort Pierce, in a strip of comparatively high 
land. This ridge is 1 to 2 miles wide and forms the west bank of the 
Indian River and Lake Worth. West of this ridge the land is low, 
marshy pine, which merges into the Everglades south of Jupiter Inlet. 
This entire strip of land, running along the east coast for over 150 
miles, could be made a compact pineapple field if necessity should 
demand. Already fields of pineapples, containing from 50 to 100 
acres in a block, may be seen here. Considerably north of this, on 
Merritts Island, which is protected by the broad waters of Indian 
River, there are some plantations, and these could be greatly extended. 
Plate IV shows a thrifty pineapple plantation at Jensen, Fla. 

On the keys the soil on which the pineapple is grown consists of a 
very thin layer of leaf mold, which usually covers the ever-present 
coralline rock, although frequently the latter is not covered at all. 
The method followed here is to make a clearing, burn the brush and 
trees, and set out the plants wherever sufficient soil exists for their 
support. At about the time of the first planting, some tropical fruit, 
such as avocado pears, limes, sapodillas, etc M is set out among the 
pineapples. These reach bearing about the time the fruitfulness of 
the pineapple ceases, which is usually in about five or six years. 
After one planting of pineapples runs out, the soil is no longer fit to 
grow them, so that year after year the virgin forest is destroyed to 
give place to the pineapple. From the destructive nature of this 
method of culture the industry can have only a limited extension on 
the keys, for soon all the available forest land will have been planted. 

At present there are about 2,389 acres 1 in the State planted to pine- 
apples. This area, as may be seen from the above statements, may 
be greatly extended as the demand for the fruit increases. South 
Florida is the only region in the United States where pineapple cul- 
ture has succeeded or is ever liable to succeed. The demand for the 
fruit is rapidly increasing and can not at present be supplied, and as 
foreign markets are open to Florida producers an outlet would be 
found in them should our own markets become overstocked. Our 
consul at Rheims, France, writes as follows: "Pineapples are almost 
unknown in France and the price is out of all proportion, but there 
is sale for them." There seems to be no probability, however, in the 
near future of an oversupply of this fruit. 


Heat. — The thermal conditions governing the successful growth 
of the pineapple have been discussed above. This fruit can not 

1 This estimate is based on lists of growers and the acreage cultivated by each, 
which were kindly furnished by growers in the various localities and may be 
considered as fairly accurate. 

Pineapple Plantation near West Palm Beach, Florida. 


withstand freezing temperatures, and the extension of the industry 
depends most largely on this condition. The mean annual tempera- 
ture must also be high, as a region may seldom have frosts and yet he 
too cold for the successful growth of this fruit. The best pineapple 
regions in the world have a mean temperature of from 75° to 80°. 
The mean annual temperature of the Bahamas is about 76°; Key 
West, off the coast of Florida, has a mean annual temperature of 
about 76°; and Jupiter, in the midst of the pineapple region, about 
73°. The annual mean in a large part of the pineapple section of 
Florida is thus comparatively low. 

, Soil. — Some difference of opinion exists among planters as to the 
quality of the soil best suited to pineapple culture. Selmer, in Trop- 
ical Agriculture, says: "A light, sandy, dry soil does not suit the 
pineapple, and even less a stony or marshy soil. The most suitable 
soil is a rich humus, with a clayey subsoil. " 

In Niihu and the Philippine Islands, where pineapples succeed 
well, the soil is disintegrated lava covered with a layer of humus. 
There is but little cohesion in such soils, particularly when, as in this 
case, they contain considerable lime. When clay is present, it is said 
to be important that it should not be so abundant as to hinder root 
penetration or hold the soil water, but a certain amount to increase 
the water-holding capacity of the soil is apparently very desirable. 

The soils in Florida which have uniformly given the best results 
are composed mainly of fine sand and are extremely poor in the ele- 
ments of plant food. Artificial fertilization is used in all places 
except on the keys, where the soil is a rich humus. It might be sup- 
posed that the soil in most places acts only as a basis for artificial, 
fertilization, but such is not the case, as all soils will not answer. 
Coarse, sandy soils and shell lands are not suitable. Many planta- 
tions have been put out on shell land, but have uniformly failed, 
and therefore care must be used to select suitable soil. The land 
in Florida which planters generally consider best is that known as 
"hickory scrub." The surface soil is fine white sand, from 5 to 6 
inches deep, and contains from 94 to 99 per cent of silica; the subsoil 
is a yellowish sand, of about the same chemical and mechanical con- 
stitution. The more abundant spruce pine' (Pinus clausa) scrub 
land, where the soil can scarcely be distinguished from the hickory 
scrub, also gives good results. The pineapple lands of the Indian 
River and Lake Worth region are principally scrub lands of the 
above kind. The so-called high pine land, which is usually a gray 
surface soil, underlaid with a subsoil of yellow sand, is also con- 
sidered good pineapple land. The flatwoods land, which is probably 
the most extensive of the various soil formations south of Lake Worth 
on the east coast and the Caloosahatchee River on the west coast, has 
been planted to pineapples to some extent and has given fair results. 
Hammock lands, which of all Florida soils are the richest in humus, 
2 A 95 10 


have not proved very satisfactory in most places. The rich humus of 
the keys, underlaid with coralline limestone, has given good results. 

Moisture. — The pineapple requires considerable moisture for its 
successful growth, but there are only a few places in Florida where 
the lack of moisture can be considered a serious drawback. Some 
high ridges, however, such as are found in places along the Indian 
River, are too dry for the best growth of this plant. There is no doubt 
that the majority of the plantations would be greatly benefited by more 
moisture at times, but the effects of its scarcity are usually not very 
noticeable. An average yearly rainfall of about 100 inches is said 
to be typical for a pineapple country. The rainfall in Florida is in 
general about 50 or 60 inches. 


The climatic conditions existing in Florida have led to the prac- 
tice of growing the plants under sheds, particularly in the case of 
fine varieties. At present there are about 100 acres of plants grown in 
this way in Florida. Some of these sheds cover from 7 to 10 acres. 
This method of growing, it is claimed, prevents excessive evaporation 
from the soil and plants, thus conserving the moisture; protects the 
plants from frosts, freezes, and winds; and prevents the fruit from 

When grown in this way, a larger percentage of the plants fruit 
within the usual time and the fruit is larger and of better quality. 
Usually the sheds are made about 7 feet high, to allow of perfect free- 
dom in working. Some of the larger varieties, such as the Porto Rico, 
attain a height of 5 feet or more when grown under cover, and in such 
cases high sheds are necessary. The posts, which are usually of 3 by 
3 inch pine, are set a short depth in the soil to give firmness, and are 
generally placed 9 by 14 feet apart. Stringers of 1 by 8 inch material 
are attached to the tops of these standards the 14-foot way. These 
support the cover of the shed and should be braced at each post. A 
narrower strip, placed below the main stringers, is nailed to the posts 
the 9-foot way to give greater firmness. The cover is made of 3 by 
1 inch pin© boards 18 feet long. These are nailed to the stringers, 
leaving between each board a 3-inch space. The method of growing 
under sheds is illustrated in fig. 62. 

Most of the pineapples in the State, however, are grown by open 
culture ; that is, are not covered with sheds. While growing the plants 
under sheds gives rather better results, open culture has also usually 
proved profitable. A field of the Porto Rico pineapples grown by the 
latter method is illustrated in fig. 63. 

Irrigation is not as yet much practiced, and is not growing in favor. 
Those who have irrigating plants are usually inclined to believe that 
growing under sheds is preferable. Both methods, however, would 
probably be desirable, but would be too expensive for general use. -~ 



Of the many varieties of pineapples which are known, something 
over 25 have been introduced into Florida, and are now being culti- 
vated there. Among these are many of the best varieties known, so 
that there is no lack of good varieties from which to select. The 
variety which is most widely cultivated in Florida, and which is spoken 
of as "the common" pineapple, is the Spanish, or Red Spanish. The 
fruits are of medium size, ranging from 2-J- to 6 pounds, and usually 
sell at from 4 to 10 cents each. Formerly this variety was extensively 
cultivated in the West Indies, but there it has rapidly given way to 
other and better varieties. 

In Florida, it is believed, the majoiity of intelligent planters are 
inclined to favor the cultivation of certain other varieties of the so- 
called fancy sorts, although many still claim that the Spanish is the 
best variety for general culture. The fruit of the Spanish is admitted 
by all to be inferior in quality to many others, but growers claim 
that it is the hardiest, is the easiest to cultivate, and best suited to 
varying conditions. This claim may be true, but in general it is as 
easy to raise a good fruit as a poor one, and the cost is about the 
same. Fruit grown in Florida can be placed in the New York market 
in from seven to ten days. Simmonds, in Tropical Agriculture, says 
that the average time of passage of pineapples from the Bahamas to 
London is from thirty-one to thirty-five days. As our best varieties 
are good shippers, enduring transportation to New York or Boston 
with little loss if properly handled, this can not be urged against 
the growing of the fine varieties. 

Of other varieties, the Queen, or Golden Queen, is probably the most 
commonly grown, and is very good. The fruits are of medium size, 
weighing from 3 to 5 pounds, and usually sell at from 10 to 25 cents 

Of the so-called fancy varieties, the Abbaka (Abbakacha), Smooth 
Cayenne, and Porto Bico are probably the most general favorites. 
The Abbaka is a tall, robust plant, with large, cylindrical, golden yel- 
low fruits, which usually sell at from 30 to 40 cents each. The only 
serious fault with this variety is that the slips are so closely attached 
to the fruit that it is difficult to separate them without injuring the 
fruit. Most Florida planters^ the writer believes, consider this the 
best variety grown. 

The Smooth Cayenne is a large, broad-leafed variety, almost free 
from spines, a character which is of no little importance. The fruit 
is slightly conical, yellow when ripe, and of fine flavor. It weighs 
from 4 to 10 pounds, and sells usually at from 30 to 50 cents. This 
variety seldom produces slips, and this is a serious drawback to its 
general culture. 


The Porto Rico is the largest and most robust plant and produces 
the largest fruit of any variety yet introduced and grown in Florida. 
The fruit usually weighs from 8 to 12 pounds, and packs from seven to 
nine to the half crate. Although rather coarse and sour, the fruit 
pays well, selling at from 50 cents to $1 each. This variety endures 
shipping very well, and forms abundant suckers and slips. 

The Enville, or Enville City, Sugar Loaf, Ripley Queen, Lord Car- 
rington, Moscow, Black Prince, Prince Albert, Giant Kew, etc., are 
other varieties grown, but with varying success. The Enville is a 
large fruit, of fine flavor, and is a general favorite. Unfortunately, 
it is a poor shipper, and is thus not generally planted. The Sugar 
Loaf, which Selmer says is the most prized of all varieties in the 
West Indies, has not met with general favor in Florida. 

The Pinas de Cahuipa, which is said to be the favorite variety in 
Mexico, and which is largely cultivated in the State of Jalisco, has not 
yet been introduced into Florida, so far as the writer knows. It is 
claimed that not a trace of acid can be discovered in this fruit. The 
Ananassa Bracamorensis also has not yet, as far as known by the 
writer, been introduced. This variety, which was discovered a few 
years ago by Warscewicz at a small place known as Jean de Bracanio- 
ras, situated on the heights of Maranon, in South America, was first 
grown at Ghent, and from there introduced into England. The fruit 
is described as being very large, weighing 25 to 30 pounds, and of 
exceptionally fine quality and flavor. 


The pineapple is propagated principally by offsets from the parent 
plant. These offsets are of several kinds. Some of the axillary buds 
near the base of the parent plant push out vigorous sprouts, which are 
known as suckers. Two or more of these are formed, and when broken 
off and set out form new plants. The suckers which spring from buds 
below the soil are spoken of as "rattoons." These are usually left 
attached to the parent, and grow into new plants without transplant- 
ing. Good suckers usually fruit the first year after planting. 

The so-called slips are produced from buds on the fruit stalk under 
the fruit. They are smaller than the suckers, but are more abundant, 
from five to fifteen being produced on a plant. If many plants are 
desired, they can be obtained by removing the slips immediately after 
the harvesting of the fruit. In this way from two to five new slips 
appear in the place where the first slip was broken off. Not more 
than two of these slips should be allowed to grow, and when these 
have attained sufficient size they may be broken off and planted. In 
general, however, slips should not be removed from the parent plant 
immediately after cutting the fruit, but should be allowed to remain 
until they mature. One may judge when to remove them by the turn- 
ing brown of the stem under the leaves at the base. They should be 


planted as quickly as possible after they mature. Slips fruit usually 
in twenty months after planting. Although they take more time than 
the suckers, they are said to produce better fruits, and, considering 
the expense involved, are in general preferred by planters. 

The crowns produced at the apex of the fruit may be used to 
propagate the plant, but these require from two to five years to 
mature. As they are usually marketed with the fruit, however, they 
are seldom used in propagation. Seeds are occasionally produced by 
pineapples, but seedling plants require so long to mature (ten to 
twelve years) that they are used only when it is desired to secure new 


It requires less care to prepare the sandy soils of Florida for plant- 
ing than is necessary with humus and clayey soils, which are liable to 
be lumpy. The trees and brush are cleared off and the stumps and 
roots grubbed out. The pine stumps, however, may be left in, as 
they rot in a few years. It is best not to burn the brush on the ground 
to be planted, as this destroys the productiveness of the soil by burn- 
ing out the vegetable matter. After the land is cleared it is plowed 
and the trash again raked together and carted off. Some plant the 
pineapples immediately after clearing the land, while others wait for 
some months. It seems to make little difference when the land is 
planted, but when convenient it is probably best to let the land remain 
idle for a time after clearing, so that small linibs, weeds, etc. , may be 
allowed to rot on the soil and form nutrition. 

The plants are set in beds of varying size. It is important to have 
pathways at least every 25 or 50 feet to facilitate work in gathering 
the fruit. Some plant in long beds, about 14 feet wide, which are 
narrow enough to allow of cultivation Avithout walking among the 
plants. In this way the leaves are saved from the injury which would 
otherwise unavoidably result. The distance left between the plants 
is important. Florida growers set them much closer than English 
planters. In Florida the Spanish variety is usually set from 18 to 20 
inches apart each way, Queen 20 to 22 inches, Porto Rico 30 to 36 
inches, and so on with the other varieties, according to size. The ten- 
dency is to decrease rather than increase the distance. The reason 
usually given for close planting is that the plants when close together 
support each other and prevent the fruit from falling over and becom- 
ing sunburned on one side. It is urged that pineapples do fully as 
well when set close, and, moreover, in this way the difficulty in keep- 
ing the weeds down is removed. 

In general the methods of growing pineapples are different in Florida 
from those practiced in other pineapple countries. According to Sel- 
mer, it was formerly the custom in the Bahamas to plant the Spanish 
about 2 feet apart each way, but among the intelligent growers it is 


now more common to plant them 3 feet apart. Selmer recommends 
planting them 2|- feet apart in rows 3£ feet apart. This would allow 
of cultivation with plows or cultivators, and is worthy the considera- 
tion of the growers in Florida, where labor costs so much. English 
planters, also uniformly insist on giving the plants more space. In 
defense of the methods followed in Florida, however, it may be said 
that here planters do not depend on the natural richness of the soil, 
but on artificial fertilizers. In Florida soils the roots of the plants 
form in a dense cluster and do not spread to any great distance. 
Even in the closest planting, 18 inches square, the roots would prob- 
ably not fully cover the space. Where artificial fertilization is used, 
the soil should be fully occupied to prevent loss. If crowding the 
tops produces no injury, but on the contrary is, as claimed, a benefit, 
there would seem to be no reason why close planting would not be 
profitable and successful. 

To facilitate planting, the land is marked with a plow or "marker" 
such as is used in marking cornfields in the North. The marker may 
be made by taking a board 12 inches wide, 1 inch thick, and 12 feet 
long, and attaching to it, at the distances at which the plants are to be 

set, small runners similar to those on sleds. 
A tongue attached to the center completes 
the marker. If it is desired to have the plants 
set exactly the same distance apart — and this 
is important under sheds, where the space is 
very valuable — it is probably best to mark 
the rows by a line run the length of the bed. 

Fig ei-Instrument for mark- rp^ distallee wMeh shouM inte rvene be- 
ing a field for pineapples. 

tween the plants in the row is then easily 
marked with an apparatus like that represented in fig. 64. This has 
pegs 1$ inches in diameter and about 5 inches long, which may be set 
at the desired distance. This instrument, which is easily made, is 
used like a spade. Following the marking cord, guide the instru- 
ment at one end of the row, putting the first mark where desired. 
Then with the foot thrust the pegs into the soil. Continue down the 
row in this way, each time placing one of the end pegs in the last hole 
made, to guide the distance. 

Planting is done principally in July, August, and September. The 
plants should be set out, however, as soon as possible after the fruit 
is removed, but the slips should be allowed to mature before they are 
removed from the parent plant. It is desirable to plant them early, 
so that they may have the advantage of as much of the summer rains 
as possible. Planting is frequently done in the later months also, but 
in this ease the grower is not so sure to obtain good plants. 

When removed from the parent plant, the slips and suckers usually 
have contracted, hard ends, covered with reduced leaves or bracts. 
It is a general practice in Florida, as well as in other pineapple coun- 


tries, to strip off a number of the basal leaves and cut off a portion of 
this hard end before planting them. 

Fig. 65, a, represents a sucker trimmed ready to plant, and 6 the 
base of a properly trimmed sucker. Many claim that it is quite nec- 
essary to trim the suckers high to prevent what may be called tangle 
root, otherwise roots start out under the bases of the lower leaves 
and do not penetrate into the soil, but are deflexed by the leaves 
and wind around the base of the plant, as shown in fig. 66. Many 
think that this is not at all injurious, and it must be admitted that in 
general little difference can be seen. However, the quite general 
occurrence of tangle root in connection with the pineapple blight, of 
which disease it is probably a symptom, leads the writer to think that 
it is not a desirable condition. The stem is usually larger above and 
below where the roots wind around it, which indicates that the wind- 
ing prevents the stem from growing to its normal size. In general it 

Fig. 65.— Pineapple suckers, a, pineapple sucker trimmed ready to set; 6, base of a properly 

trimmed sucker. 

would be well to strip off the leaves sufficiently to cut the base off 
above where roots have started. 

The plants when properly trimmed are ready to set. They should 
be planted deep enough to give them a good hold upon the soil when 
rooted, so that they will not be blown over and injured. Usually 
slips should be set from 2 to 4 inches deep, and suckers from 3 to 5 
inches, according to the size. 


In Florida the pineapple is cultivated almost wholly with the scuffle 
hoe, the ground being usually kept as nearly free from weeds as pos- 
sible. Mulching has been used to some extent, but is not generally 
thought to be a good practice. The question of how to fertilize the 
soil to give the best growth is one of great importance to Florida pine- 
apple growers, but is at present little understood. Cotton-seed meal, 
ground tobaeco stems, and blood and bone are the fertilizers most 


generally used. Although probably not the best fertilizers, they have 
an advantage in that they may be spread broadcast over the beds 
without injury to the plants. Cotton-seed meal is more used than 
any other fertilizer, and apparently gives good results. The chemi- 
cal manurial elements, sulphate and muriate of potash, kainit, nitrate 
of soda, sulphate of ammonia, etc. , burn the leaves. For this reason 
these can not safely be spread broadcast, but must be carefully put 

on the soil between the plants, 
care being taken not to get them 
on the leaves to any extent. 
Some growers claim that acid 
phosphates are very injurious, 
while others use them with ap- 
parently good results. Kainit 
and sulphate of potash are the 
forms of potash most generally 
used. The ammonia is com- 
monly derived from cotton-seed 
meal, blood and bone, tobacco 
stems, nitrate of soda, and sul- 
phate of ammonia; the phos- 
phoric acid from cotton-seed 
meal, ground bone, and un- 
treated phosphate rock. 
Where a complete fertilizer is 
used, from 1,500 to 2, 000 pounds 
per acre is applied within the 
year or twenty months required 
for the development of the 
suckers or slips. It is put on at 
two or three applications and 
worked in by scuffle hoeing. 

After the plants have fruited 
they form suckers from the 
base. Those coming from be- 
low the* soil (in this case called 
rattoons) are allowed to grow in 
order to continue the field with- 
out replanting, but the others are removed, to be planted in other 
fields. In this way fruiting and suckering may be continued on the 
same field for a number of years without replanting. "With the Span- 
ish variety this method will give good results for six or eight years, 
and to all appearances longer if proper care and proper fertilization 
are given. Some growers have fields considerably over eight years 
old. If the suckers are not largely removed, old fields become an 
almost impenetrable mat of plants. The plants even thus crowded, 

Fig. 06.— Tangle root of the pineapple. 


which seems to be their natural mode of growth, are said, to produce 
abundant and good fruit. In such fields all cultivation becomes 
impossible, the fertilizers used being spread broadcast without any 
attempt to work them in. In fields thus planted the decay of the old 
tops furnishes considerable nutrition. 


The fruits ripen generally in May and June, but are usually gath- 
ered and shipped before fully mature. In gathering, the fruit of the 
Spanish variety is usually broken off, while the fancy kinds are cut 
or broken off, a long stem being left attached, which is cut off smooth 
after breaking. All possible care should be taken to avoid bruising. 
Before packing, the fruit is usually taken into the packing house and 
cooled. In the fancy sorts some careful packers coat the cut end of 
the stem with paraffin. The crowns are left attached and sold with 
the fruit. In Florida the fruit is packed in crates of a standard size, 
12 by 20 by 36 inches. These are known as whole or barrel crates. 
For the fancy varieties half crates, 12 by 10 by 36 inches, are gen- 
erally used. In packing, each fruit is usually wrapped separately in 
thin paper. Shipping in bulk, which is the usual method in the 
Bahamas and West Indies, is not practiced in Florida. 


"Sanding." — The malady known as "sanding," which is caused" 
by sand blowing into the apex of the plant and collecting around 
the young leaves, is of frequent occurrence. If the sand is not 
removed, it checks the growth of the plant. There is not much 
danger from sanding after the plants have become well rooted and 
are growing vigorously. It is a very common practice in Florida to 
put a handful of cotton-seed meal in the apex of the plant shortly 
after setting to prevent it from becoming sanded. The advantage 
of this is that the cotton-seed meal catches the sand, and when wet- 
ted by rain or heavy dews the mass becomes more or less cemented 
together. When the plant starts to grow, this mass is carried up on 
the ends of the new leaves, and is finally washed off onto the ground, 
where it serves as a fertilizer. This is a cheap and apparently a very 
effective preventive. If plants become sanded, they may be taken up 
and the sand removed, or the same result may be accomplished by 
directing, with considerable force, a small stream of water into the 
heart of the plant. Close planting, shedding, and wind-breaks are 
other preventive measures. 

Long leaf, or spike. — The so-called long leaf, or spike, is very abun- 
dant in many places. Plants affected with it become stunted and 
dwarfed, and the leaves which develop are narrow and crowded. 
The cause of the disease is not known, but is probably primarily 
2 A 95 10* 


due to improper soil conditions. The best thing to do, so far as at 
present known, is to destroy the plants which become diseased ancl 
plant others in their places. 

Blight. — The pineapple blight, a symptom of which is a gradual 
withering of the ends of the leaves, is also a serious malady, and one 
which is at present little understood. It is particularly destructive 
to Queens and Porto Ricos and apparently affects all varieties to some 
extent. Different varieties usually assume different colors when 
attacked, the reddish color of the Queen becoming deeper, and the 
Porto Rico turning a pale yellow. Blight, as before stated, is fre- 
quently accompanied by tangle root, which is probably a symptom of 
this malady. Digging up blighted plants, pruning them thoroughly, 

removing the basal leaves, and cutting 
off the end of the stem with all the roots 
which have started, as in the case of pre- 
paring a sucker for planting, and finally 
transplanting, are said to restore the 
plant to health. Whether or not this 
treatment results in complete recovery 
of the plant has not yet been definitely 

Pineapple mite, or red spider. — Prob- 
ably the most serious disease of the pine- 
apple in Florida is that caused by the 
minute red mite, or red spider (Stig- 
mozus sp.), which works at the base of 
the leaves near the stem. They work 
on spots, which become slightly elevated 
and brownish, feeding around the edges 
of the spots and gradually extending 
them until the whole base of the leaf be- 
comes diseased and the leaf dies. The 
characteristic spots resulting from the 
injury of these insects are shown in fig. 
67. It is difficult to combat these in- 
sects, owing to the fact that they are usually below the soil and well 
protected by the closely overlapping leaves. No careful experiments 
have as yet been made toward conquering this pest, but sulphur wash 
poured or sprayed into the apex of the plant, or a small quantity of 
tobacco dust thrown into the apex, is said to have proved beneficial. 

Mealy bug. — The mealy bug, which works principally on the leaves 
and stems, sometimes becomes troublesome by getting under the scales 
at the base and in the flower eyes of the fruit. They may probably 
be controlled by spraying with resin wash. 

Several other diseases besides those above mentioned are known, but 
are not of common occurrence, and as yet cause only slight damage. 

Fig. 67. —Spots on the base of a pine- 
apple leaf caused by the pineapple 
mite, or red spider (Stigmceus). 


By William A. Taylok, 
Assistant Pomologist, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 

It is the purpose of this paper to present in compact form the gen- 
eral principles upon which the successful culture of small fruits is 
founded. It is designed for beginners rather than for experienced 
growers, and is therefore largely devoted to points which the man 
without experience is likely to ignore, or at best to regard with insuf- 
ficient attention. Some of the methods suggested may need modifi- 
cation to meet the needs of the individual grower, but it is believed 
that such changes as.may be necessary will suggest themselves to the 
thinking cultivator who carefully considers his particular location 
and surroundings. 

The growing of small fruits requires a comparatively large invest- 
ment of capital per acre and also a better soil than is necessary for 
the production of most of the tree fruits. It is therefore better suited 
to the small farm, under the direct supervision of the owner, than 
to the large estate, whose proprietor cultivates by proxy. To' balance 
the comparatively large capital required we have the fact that, aside 
from the value of the land and permanent improvements, the chief 
outlay is for labor, which may be done by the grower and his im- 
mediate family, while . the returns are much quicker than from the 
tree fruits or the grape. In a few sections, so situated that large 
markets, either near or remote, are accessible, the culture of one or 
another of the small fruits may be profitably undertaken on a large 
scale, but these instances only serve to emphasize the fact that small 
. fruit culture is primarily a homestead pursuit. The narrow bed or 
garden border of fifty years ago, enriched, dug, and weeded by hand, 
has developed into the field, fertilized, plowed, and cultivated by 
horse power, yet the requirements of the various species remain much 
the same, the methods of accomplishing the desired results alone dif- 
fering. As practiced by advanced growers in the United States, the 
methods followed in the culture of small fruits are peculiarly of 
American development; while with the exception of the currant, the 
varieties extensively grown are of American origin. 

The fruits to be considered are the strawberry, blackberry, rasp- 
berry, currant, and gooseberry. 




No small-fruit plantation is likely to be profitable if located far 
from a market or convenient shipping point. In selecting a location 
special attention should be paid to the character of the roads, if the 
fruit must be hauled by wagon for any considerable distance. If rail- 
road or steamboat transportation is to be depended on, the efficiency 
and enterprise of existing lines should be investigated, as the charac- 
ter of their service will be of great importance when fruit shipments 

In any given locality the most important consideration should be 
the selection of a site reasonably safe from killing frosts in spring. 
Away from the influence of bodies of water such sites are usually 
found on small plateaus or gentle slopes terminating in abrupt ra- 
vines or valleys where prompt and thorough cold-air drainage exists. 
Flat land, remote from open water and unbroken by ravines or hills, 
should always be regarded with suspicion, particularly if underlaid 
by a cold and badly drained subsoil. Bottom lands, in which admi- 
rable soil for small fruits is often found, are usually too uncertain in 
their fruit production, owing to frequent frost injury. 

The soil requirements of the different species vary considerably, 
but all thrive in a moderately deep loamy soil that holds moisture 
well at all times without becoming soggy during protracted rainfall. 

The exposure to be sought varies with the latitude, the climate, and 
the aim of the grower. If earliness is requisite to secure profitable 
prices, and the locality one in which late frosts are infrequent, a south- 
ern slope is preferable; if, on the other hand, a uniform and regular 
demand exists, regardless of a few days' difference in time of ripening, 
a gentle northern or northeastern exposure should be selected. In 
most localities, however, the matter of slope is of much less impor- 
tance than that of comparative elevation of the site. It should lie 
higher than the adjacent land without being bleak, and should fur- 
nish a soil of at least fair fertility. 


The selection of the proper preparatory crop is a matter of much 
importance. In general some hoed crop should precede the planting 
of any of the small fruits. With the strawberry at least two years of 
cultivation should intervene between well-established sod and the 
planting of berries, in sections where the white grub abounds. Corn 
or potatoes, well manured and kept free from weeds throughout the 
season by thorough cultivation, are good preparatory crops. In 
trucking regions almost any of the annual vegetables will do to pre- 
cede small fruits. The objects to be attained are (1) to free the 
ground from seeds of annual weeds; (2) to eradicate established per- 
ennials of every sort, including grasses; (3) to get rid of noxious insect 


larvae, and (4) to leave the soil in that lively and mellow condition 
which the grower characterizes as "good tilth." If any portion of 
the field remains wet long after rains during any portion of the year, 
it should be drained before planting. In most soils and locations tile 
underdrains are preferable, though boards, poles, or stones are some- 
times used to good advantage. If all of these are impracticable, land 
naturally wet can sometimes be made to yield fairly good crops by 
planting on ridges thrown up with the plow and depending upon open 
ditches to remove surface water. 

Stumps, loose roots, and stones large enough to interfere with the 
cultivator should all be removed before the final plowing. The grower 
should bear in mind that thorough preparation of the soil will mate- 
rially increase the probability of securing a good stand of plants, on 
the one hand, while it greatly decreases the amount of hand work 
necessary in hoeing and weeding, on the other. This is particularly 
true on new ground and on all soils of a clayey or tenacious character. , 

The preparatory plowing should be as carefully done as for a garden 
crop, and in most soils it should be as deep as possible without turn- 
ing up much of the subsoil. Surface soils less than 8 inches deep 
should be plowed to their full depth. Where a compact or retentive 
subsoil is found, its stirring with a subsoiler will benefit the crop in 
most regions by affording prompter drainage and promoting deeper 
root growth. If the planting is not done until spring, most soils suit- 
able for small fruits will be benefited by a deep fall plowing, followed 
by a shallower cross plowing as early in spring as the land is workable, 
or by thorough and repeated working with one of the numerous forms 
of disk or spading harrows now in use. 

This should be followed by a lighter pulverizer or smoothing harrow 
before the soil becomes lumpy. The roller or plank clod crusher can 
sometimes be used to advantage, but if the soil be taken at the proper 
stage of dryness the treatment noted above will rarely fail to accom- 
plish the desired result. Too much attention can hardly be bestowed 
upon this matter of soil preparation, yet it is often slighted by small- 
fruit planters. Errors in fertilizing, cultivating, or pruning can some- 
times be corrected by subsequent good treatment, but deficient prepa- 
ration can not be overcome during the existence of Che crop. 


Unless the soil is very rich from previous fertilizing, the crop will 
be largely increased by the application of well-rotted stable manure, 
say 20 tons to the acre, applied before the final plowing or thoroughly 
worked into the soil with a spading harrow. If stable manure is not 
obtainable, finely ground bone and muriate of potash can be profitably 
used on many soils. Nitrate of soda can sometimes be applied in 
moderation with profit. If the soil is of a sandy nature and known 
to be deficient in nitrogen, a preparatory crop of crimson clover will 


doubtless be advantageous in climates where this plant succeeds, or 
other leguminous crops may be grown and plowed in. Hard-wood 
ashes are excellent on most soils and, in general, commercial fertilizers 
rich in phosphoric acid and potash may be profitably used. The selec- 
tion of the fertilizer that can be most profitably used on any particular 
soil must be determined by local experiment, however, and upon the 
very field in question unless tests have been made on similar soils in 
the immediate neighborhood. 

It should be said that among growers who ship their fruit long dis- 
tances there is an increasing tendency to favor commercial fertilizers 
rather than stable manure, on the ground that the fruit thus grown 
is firmer and of better carrying quality. This applies particularly to 
fruit grown in the humid climate of the South Atlantic and Gulf 
States, where most fruit plants incline to make a rank growth, which 
produces watery fruit, and where rains during the ripening season 
are frequent. A considerable gain results also from the absence of 
weed seeds from prepared fertilizers, these often proving very trou- 
blesome in fields enriched with stable manure. 


The best time for planting small fruits is yet a disputed question, 
except in the North, where fall-set plants of most species are subject 
to winterkilling. There are few localities where spring planting is 
not the safer method, though often the soil can be more thoroughly 
prepared and the planting be more cheaply done in autumn than in 
spring. If done in autumn, in regions where the ground freezes to 
any considerable depth during winter, the newly set plants should be 
well mulched to prevent winter injury. 

All planting should be in straight rows of equal distance apart. 
In the case of the bush fruits it is often advantageous to have the 
rows laid off both ways, so that the cultivator can be run in both 
directions, at least during the first season. If the land is hilly and 
inclined to wash, the rows should be laid around the hills, conforming 
to their curves, but on land reasonably level the rows should, if 
possible, run north and south and should be as long in that direction 
as the shape of the field will permit. Overcrowding of plants should 
be avoided, as fruit of large size is rarely produced by plants having 
insufficient food, air, and sunshine. If more than one variety of any 
fruit be planted, or if plants of the same variety be obtained from 
different sources, each lot should be separately planted and labeled. 
Failure to do this often leads to expensive uncertainty in later years 
when plants are desired for new fields or for sale. Many a careless 
or dishonest plant grower or dealer has escaped responsibility for 
misnamed or damaged stock through the inability of the planter to 
positively trace the plants to his establishment. 

Plants should be promptly examined upon receipt, and should be at 
once heeled in if planting can not be done immediately. In no case 


should they be permitted to dry out or be left with roots exposed to 
the sun or to drying winds. If dry when received, they can often be 
freshened by placing the roots in water for a few hours. If the 
weather is dry at planting time, the "puddling" of the roots by dip- 
ping in a thin mud of clay and water to which fresh cow manure has 
been added will often go far toward insuring their growth. 

Before setting out, each plant should be carefully examined, and all 
broken or decayed roots, leaves, or branches should be removed. 
Plants found diseased or infested with injurious insects should be 
promptly destroyed, unless the affected portions can be readily cut 
off and burned. The roots should always be placed in contact with 
fresh, moist soil, whether the planting be done with the hand or with 
dibble, spade, or other implement. 

Cultivation should immediately follow planting, and should be 
repeated at frequent intervals during the spring and summer. The 
appearance of weeds should not be waited for, as the cultivation is for 
the crop rather than for the destruction of weeds. In general it should 
be shallow rather than deep, though when the soil becomes hardened 
by the impact of heavy rainfall or the tramping of berry pickers the 
grower should not hesitate to break it up by running a sharp culti- 
vator, or even a bight one-horse plow, to the depth of 3 or 4 inches be- 
tween the rows. If the soil is properly prepared and the cultivation 
regularly kept up, this tearing up will rarely be necessary except after 
the harvesting of a crop of fruit. Provided the soil is in condition to 
work, once a week is not too frequent for the shallow cultivation of 
the small fruits during the growing season, and during the July and 
August drought that frequently prevails the surface soil should rarely 
remain unstirred longer than four or five days. Toward the end of 
summer, particularly on rich and moist soils, cultivation of the bush 
fruits should be less frequent, and it should entirely cease before the 
first frosts occur. The use of the hoe in small-fruit plantations should 
be avoided as far as possible, but when needed hoeing should be 
promptly done. "With land in good tilth and clean at the start, with 
fertilizers free from grass and weed seeds, the necessity for the expen- 
sive and laborious use of the hoe as formerly practiced is greatly 
reduced. But in order to accomplish this the land must be free from 
clods, sticks, and stones, the cultivator teeth sharp, the horse steady 
and true, and the man active and careful. 


Where winters are severe enough once in four years to seriously 
injure unprotected bush fruits, mulching or laying down will often 
pay well. Much depends upon the character and cost of the material 
used, and its durability. Straw, unless clean thrashed and free from 
grass seeds, is a most productive source of future trouble to the 
grower. Forest leaves can be secured in sufficient quantity in some 


localities to be available for use among the bush fruits. Where 
obtainable, pine needles also form an admirable mulch, and with a 
little care in removing can be used two or three times. Broken corn- 
stalks that have been well tramped over in the barnyard are useful, 
and sorghum bagasse is utilized in some sections. In the colder and 
drier climate of the Upper Mississippi Valley the only sure protection 
for blackberries and raspberries is the laying down and covering of 
the canes. This is accomplished by digging away from one side of the 
plant, toppling it over with a fork, and wholly or partially covering 
the canes with earth from between the rows. This method involves 
staking or trellising the bushes when they are raised again in spring, 
but it is found profitable because of the insurance against crop failure 
which it affords. On most heavy soils water furrows should be run 
between the rows with a light one-horse or shovel plow late in fall, in 
order that surface water may be promptly removed during the winter 

With the strawberry the only pruning needed will be the removal 
of superfluous runners. The raspberry and the blackberry, bearing 
their fruit almost exclusively on branches from canes of the previous 
year, are benefited by systematic pruning, while the currant and the 
gooseberry need it as urgently as do the tree fruits or the grape, if 
large fruit is the object sought. 

Though sometimes subject to serious damage by insects and fun- 
gous diseases, the small fruits, as a class, are less injured by them than 
the tree fruits. Most of the serious troubles may be avoided by 
choosing vigorous and resistant varieties or by spraying with well- 
known insecticides and fungicides. 1 


In the selection of varieties for planting, the best guide will always 
be local experience. If the grower aims to supply a home demand, 
he may often find it profitable to grow varieties which, because of 
lack of firmness, would be valueless for shipment. The published 
bulletins of the experiment stations afford much light on the subject 
by indicating in a general way what the behavior of varieties is in 
each State. These should be consulted, and also the reports of the 
State horticultural societies, many of which contain catalogues of the 
varieties known to succeed within their several districts. But most 
valuable of all will be found the experience of growers in the imme- 
diate vicinity. Their conclusions, though not always correct, are 
safest for the beginner, and he should only plant largely those varie- 
ties which they have found successful. The main planting should 
rarely consist of more than two varieties of each fruit, except in the 

1 See " Methods of Controlling Injurious Insects, with Formulas for Insecti- 
cides ; " also " Treatment for Fungous Diseases of Plants," Yearbook of Depart- 
ment of Agriculture, 1894, pp. 573-580. 


case of the strawberry, where four or five sorts ripening in succession 
may often be profitably grown. New and untried, sorts, though 
highly commended elsewhere, should be planted in an experimental 
way only, for but a small percentage of the varieties introduced prove 
equal in value to the standard market sorts at the time of their intro- 
duction. The market to be supplied should be studied also, and if 
some one variety is found to be in special demand, that fact should be 
considered in making the selection from those known to succeed. 


The selection of plants is a matter often slighted, even by growers 
who have long been engaged in the business, yet it is a most impor- 
tant item. The ideal method is to use such plants only as have been 
propagated from vigorous and productive individual plants of the 
desired variety. The owner of an established plantation can, by 
propagating from plants marked at fruiting time because of their 
superior vigor or productiveness, soon provide himself with plants 
much superior in these respects to those obtainable through commer- 
cial sources. But the "beginner, with no fields to select from, must 
rely upon the fact that well-grown and accurately named stock is the 
best that he can get. He should insist that the stock furnished him 
be true to name, that it be free from injurious diseases and insects, 
that it be thrifty and from newly set fields, and that it be carefully 
dug and handled. Whenever practicable he should assure himself of 
the character of the stock by personal inspection of the plants during 
the growing season. For stock of this kind he should expect to pay a 
fair price. He can well afford to pay double the price usually charged 
for old bed stock of the same varieties. If the varieties desired are 
fairly healthy there, and reasonably true to name, he will usually 
find it best to buy as near home as the desired sorts can be found, 
though plants of all kinds are now shipped in good condition for long 


Before the fruit begins to ripen, the size and style of package to be 
used should be decided on and a sufficient supply to market at least 
half of the estimated crop should be provided. The demands of dif- 
ferent markets vary greatly, but in all of them a neat, clean package 
will outsell a poorly made or filthy one. The essentials are (1) that the 
packages shall be of the standard size in the markets to be supplied; 
(2) that they be as light as may be without sacrifice of sufficient stiff- 
ness and strength to withstand any ordinary pressure -, (3) that they 
be neat, clean, and attractive in appearance. For the small fruits, 
except the red raspberry, the quart box or basket (packed in crates 
containing 16 to 64) is the supposed standard package in most markets, 
though degenerate sizes and forms of this cause a variation of 25 to 


30 per cent in its actual capacity. Red raspberries are commonly 
marketed in pint cups or boxes (packed in crates), while currants 
are frequently sold in the climax basket so largely used in shipping 

Where a home traae is supplied, the same packages, if carefully 
handled, can be used several times, but for shipment to any consider- 
able distance the "gift" package seems destined to soon supplant the 
old "return" crate. 

With packages provided, the necessity for some sort of packing 
house arises. This should be near the berries, and should be large 
enough to comfortably accommodate the packers and to shelter from 
sun and rain such quantity of picked fruit as is likely to accumulate 
at any one time. A flat-roofed shed, open to the north and boarded 
down from the top to near the ground on the other three sides, answers 
a very useful purpose. If a large area is planted, a more expensive 
building, with storage room above for packages, may be built with 

Enough hand carriers should be provided, so that each picker may 
deliver his load, receive credit for it by means.of tickets or other sim- 
ple method of keeping account, and receive an empty carrier in return 
without waiting .for his own to be emptied. Some distinguishing 
mark should be placed upon each loaded carrier, however, in order 
that it may be traced to the picker at any time previous to the pack- 
ing of the fruit in the crate. This is easily done by assigning to each 
picker a number and affixing to each carrier as it comes in an inex- 
pensive tag marked with the picker's number. Inexperienced pickers 
need instruction when first placed at work, and watchful supervision 
for a day or two. Old hands often have to unlearn careless or 
slovenly habits acquired elsewhere, and in this respect are less sat- 
isfactory than new help. Neatness, thoroughness, and honesty must 
be insisted on, and after a picker is known to be reliable on these 
points his services are worth considerably more to the grower than 
before. Pickers should be instructed to assort fruit as they pick, 
or at least should be prohibited from placing decayed, unripe, or 
imperfect berries in the boxes with marketable fruit. All boxes 
should be as full as they can be packed in the crates without bruis- 
ing the fruit, and the berries in the top layers should be placed by 
hand, so as to present an attractive appearance. It goes without 
saying that the fruit should be of uniform quality throughout the 
package if the grower hopes to build up a desirable reputation in 
his market. 

Every package should be branded with his name, and this should be 
a sufficient guarantee of the uniformity of its contents. Such a brand 
will often insure against loss during gluts, and cause prompt sales at 
advanced prices when the conditions affecting demand and supply are 



The strawberry succeeds on a wide range of soil, but does best on a 
moist, sandy loam. It may be planted at any time of year if pro- 
tected from sun and frost, but is commercially planted in early spring 
or in late summer. Only new plants, that is, those less than 1 year 
old, should be used, and these should be from the first sets rooted 
from runners. Distance between plants varies, but rows 4 feet apart, 
with a distance of 15 inches between the plants, requiring 8,712 plants 
per acre, may be taken as a fair average. Blossom buds should be 
removed from spring-set plants, as fruiting lessens plant growth. 
Runners should be allowed to root early in the season and until a 
row width of 15 to 18 inches is attained. Those formed later in the 
season should be cut or torn off with cultivators. To avoid tearing up 
rooted runners, always cultivate in the same direction; to prevent 
them from rooting, reverse the operation. Judicious thinning out of 
weak or crowded plants in the row is advisable. Select tested varie- 
ties, and if any are pistillate provide bisexual sorts blooming and 
ripening at same time, and, as nearly as may be, such as produce 
fruit similar in size, color, and appearance. Plant in separate rows 
in the proportion of one bisexual to three or four pistillate. Mulching 
usually pays if clean straw, etc., can be had at a low price. Injury 
to blossoms by frost can be lessened by pulling mulch up over them 
with light, broad, hand rakes during the preceding day and removing 
after the danger is past. In this connection, read the article on 
Frosts and Freezes in this volume. 

Cultivation should cease from blooming time until fruit is har- 
vested; otherwise should be as noted on page 287. For hoeing, a thin 
tool with both narrow and wide blades will be found advantageous. 

The most difficult period in strawberry cultivation is that which 
immediately follows fruiting. "Weeds and grass gain a foothold during 
the fruiting period, and the soil becomes hardened by the tread of 
pickers. Some growers prefer to plant a new field each year, in which 
case but a single crop of fruit is taken off, the plants being plowed 
under and followed by turnips, buckwheat, or some other quick-grow- 
ing crop. Where land is high priced and the season long enough to 
mature a supplemental crop, this practice is to be commended, but in 
most localities it is found profitable to fruit strawberries at least two 

In such ease it is advisable to mow, dry, and burn the leaves and 
weeds as soon as the fruit is harvested. Some elements of fertility 
will be lost, but the destruction of injurious insects and fungi will 
compensate for this. If a durable mulch, like pine needles, has been 
used, this should be raked off and stacked for future use before the 
mowing is done. Immediately after the burning, two furrows should 
be thrown together, midway between the rows, with a light and sharp 
one-horse plow. Sometimes four furrows are needed to reduce the 


width of the rows to 1 foot or less. This leaves all portions of the rows 
readily accessible to the hoe, which should follow the plow within a 
very few days. The frequent cultivation previously mentioned will 
in a short time level the ridge and reduce the space between the rows 
to a mellow condition favorable to the rooting of runners. Unless 
the soil is very rich and free from weeds, it will seldom pay to retain 
a strawberry field longer than two fruiting seasons. 

"Varieties succeeding over a wide range of soil and climate are: 
Bisexual — Michel, Wilson, Sharpless, Gandy; pistillate — Crescent, 
Warfield, Bubach, Haverland. 


The blackberry can be profitably grown on lighter and drier soils 
than the strawberry, but requires frequent rains during the summer ' 
to mature its fruit. It should be planted very early in spring or in 
fall in the lower latitudes, plants being commonly secured as suckers 
from newly established fields, though plants grown from root cuttings 
are preferred by many growers. Where planted in hills for cultivat- 
ing both ways, 6 by 6 feet (requiring 1,210 plants per acre) to 8 by 8 
feet (requiring 680 plants per acre) is the proper distance, varying 
according to vigor and habit of variety. (See PL V.) If in rows, they 
should be about 7 feet apart, with plants 4 feet apart in the row, taking 
1,556 plants per acre. Plants should be set 3 or 4 inches deep, with 
the tops cut back to 2 or 3 inches in length. Potatoes or other hoed 
crops may be grown between the blackberries the first year if well fer- 
tilized when planted. Not more than four or five new canes should 
be permitted to grow the first year, and after that only such as give 
evidence of being healthy and vigorous. Superfluous suckers should 
be treated as weeds. Most varieties yield better and larger fruit if the 
canes are pinched back at the height of 18 to 24 inches in summer. 
The branches, should there be any, are cut back one-third or more in 
the spring. Old canes may be cut out at any time after fruit is picked. 
This is generally done in spring. Varieties not subject to rust or other 
fungous disease should be chosen. The following are chiefly grown for 
market: Early Harvest, Wilson, Snyder, Erie, Taylor, Ancient Briton. 
The first two varieties named need winter protection wherever the 
peach is subject to frequent injury by cold. With good treatment, a 
well-established plantation may be expected to continue profitable 
for six or eight years, though much depends upon the effect of severe 


The three types of this fruit— red, black, and purple — differ consid- 
erably in their requirements. 

The red raspberries proper, and of these the market grower need 
concern himself only with the varieties of our native species, succeed 

Yearbook U. S. Dept of Agriculture, 1895. 

Plate V. 

Fig. 1— Early Harvest Blackberry, Single-wire Trellis, Benton Harbor, Mich. 

Fig. 2.— Early Harvest Blackberry, Hill System, Falls Church, Va. 


through a much wider range of soil and climate than the, blackcaps. 
Both do best, however, on a well-drained but moist, rich clay loam. 
Both fail on thin sandy or gravelly soils, unless highly fertilized and 
irrigated during the fruiting season. 

The reds are commonly grown from 1-year-old suckers, though 
sometimes from root cuttings, and are usually planted in rows 6 feet 
apart, with plants 4 feet apart in the row, taking 1,815 plants per acre. 
As with blackberries, superfluous suckers should be promptly removed 
with the hoe. With many varieties fully half of the suckers that 
spring up should be thus destroyed each year. Planting is done in 
the same manner as with the blackberry, in either fall or spring. 
Plants may be moved short distances, as on the same farm, at any 
time during spring or early summer, provided damp, cloudy weather 
is selected for the work. Pruning is commonly limited to heading 
back canes to the extent of one-third of their growth, in spring before 
the leaves start. At the same time the old canes are removed, if this 
has not previously been done. The varieties most widely grown and 
successful are Hansell, Marlboro, Cuthbert, 1 and Turner. 

The blackcaps are less popular than the reds for eating fresh, but are 
considerably grown for canning and in recent years for evaporating. 
They endure shipment well in the fresh state, and by evaporating may 
be grown with profit at a greater distance from transportation bines 
than other small fruits. 

Plants are obtained from rooted tips and should be set out the 
same as the reds, with rows running both ways. The canes should be 
pinched back on reaching the height of 18 to 24 inches, and unless 
plants are desired for new plantations or for sale the tips should not be 
allowed to root. Spring pruning should consist in the removal of old 
canes and the cutting back of branches to a length of 12 to 18 inches. 

The varieties most widely grown are Ohio, Gregg, Nemaha, and 

The purple class has never become very popular in market, and 
only one variety, Shaffer, is now extensively grown. The treatment 
required is similar to that advised for the blacks, but owing to its 
larger growth the Shaffer should not be planted closer than black- 

Raspberries rarely yield more than three or four profitable crops 
from a single planting. 


These allied species require much the same soil and treatment. 
Both fail on dry or poor soils, and both thrive on moist clayey or 
sandy loams. They are essentially cool-climate plants and south of 
the Ohio and Potomac rivers do best if given partial shade. These 

1 In some sections the Golden Queen, a yellow variety that originated as a sport 
from the Cuthbert, is grown for near markets. 


may be planted in fall with impunity on any soil suited to their 
growth, and need no winter protection in most latitudes. The site 
selected should be one where snow does not accumulate to a great 
depth, for this breaks down the branches during alternate thaws and 
freezes, doing much damage to the bushes. 

Plants 2 years old with good roots, grown from cuttings, should be 
chosen. Most of the top should be cut away unless symmetrical, and 
in any case the leading branches should be headed back. They are 
essentially low-headed trees, and should be treated as such. If plant- 
ing be delayed until spring, it must be done very early, as these are 
among the first to start growth. Four by six feet, requiring 1,815 
plants per acre, is about the right distance apart. Cultivation must 
be shallow, as these are surface-rooting plants. On some soils they 
are frequently grown profitably by substituting a heavy mulch for 

Pruning should be done in fall or very early in spring, and should 
consist in the thinning out of weak and old branches, and the head- 
ing back of those making a vigorous growth. The markets are sel- 
dom overstocked with these fruits, and though the maximum price per 
quart is often less than for other berries, they are likely to net the 
grower as much in the long run. The gooseberry, which is chiefly 
marketed in this country in the green state, is perhaps the small fruit 
best suited to planting for market by the general farmer, as it inter- 
feres less with ordinary farm operations than any other. The fruit is 
in marketable condition for a longer time, and can be picked with 
the minimum of outside labor. By protecting the hands and wrists 
with leather gloves the green berries may be stripped from the bushes 
into pails with little injury to either fruit or bush. The fruit is then 
quickly cleaned of leaves and rubbish by running through a common 
fanning mill, which completes its preparation for market. 

The varieties of currants commonly grown for market are : Red — 
Red Dutch, Cherry, Prince Albert, Victoria, Fay; white — White 
Grape, White Dutch; black — Black Naples. 

The gooseberries most widely grown are Houghton, Pale Red, and 
Downing, all of American origin and parentage, though in some local- 
ities Industry, an English variety, little subject to mildew, is profit- 
ably grown. 


ByM. B. Waite, 
Assistant, Division of Vegetable Physiology and Pathology, U. S. Department of 


There is probably no disease of fruit trees so thoroughly destructive 
as pear blight, or fire blight, which attacks pears, apples, and other 
pomaceous fruits. Some diseases may be more regular in their annual 
appearance, and more persistent in their attacks on the fruits men- 
tioned, but when it does appear pear blight heads the list of disastrous 
maladies. Again, no disease has so completely baffled all attempts to 
find a satisfactory remedy, and, notwithstanding the great progress 
made within the last ten years in the treatment of plant diseases by 
spraying and otherwise, pear blight has until recently continued its 
depredations unchecked. It is now known, however, that the disease 
can be checked by simply cutting out the affected parts. This was 
one of the first methods tried in endeavoring to combat the disease, but 
came to be generally regarded as worthless. The remedy which will 
be discussed in this paper is, in a general way, so similar to the old one 
that at first it may be difficult to see that anything new has been dis- 
covered. In the process now proposed, however, there are three vital 
improvements, namely, the thoroughness and completeness with which 
the work is carried out, the time when the cutting should be done, and 
a thorough knowledge of the disease so as to know how to cut. 

The method of holding the blight in check was discovered through 
a careful scientific investigation of the life history of the microbe 
which causes it. The investigations were carried on in the field and 
laboratory, and extended over several years. In the short account 
which follows no attempt will be made to enter into the details of the 
work, nor to introduce all the evidence to prove the various state- 
ments, but simply to give such points as will enable the reader to 
intelligently carry out the method advocated. 


Pear blight may be defined as a contagious bacterial disease of the 
pear and allied fruit trees. . It attacks and rapidly kills the blossoms, 
young fruits, and new twig growth, and runs down in the living bark 
to the larger limbs, and thence to the trunk. While the bacteria 
themselves rarely kill the leaves, at most only occasionally attacking 
the stems and midribs of the youngest ones, all the foliage on the 



blighted branches must of course eventually die. The leaves usually 
succumb in from one to two weeks after the branch on which they 
grow is killed, but. remain attached, and are the most striking and 
prominent feature of the disease. 

The most important parts of the tree killed by the blight are the 
inner bark and cambium layer of the limbs and trunk. Of course, 
when the bark of a limb is killed, the whole limb soon dies, but where 
the limb is simply girdled by the disease, it may send out leaves again 
the next season and then die. All parts of the tree below the point 
reached by the blight are healthy, no more injury resulting to the 
unaffected parts of the tree than if the blighted parts had been killed 
by fire or girdling. 

Blight varies greatly in severity and in the manner in which it 
attacks the tree. Sometimes it attacks only the blossom clusters or 
perhaps only the young tips of the growing twigs; sometimes it runs 
down on the main branches and trunk; and again it extends down 
only a few inches from the point of attack. The sudden collapse of 
the foliage on blighted branches has led many to believe that the 
disease progresses more rapidly than it really does. It rarely extends 
farther than 2 or 3 inches from the point of attack in one day, but 
occasionally reaches as much as 1 foot. 

It is an easy matter to determine when the disease has expended 
itself on any limb or tree. When it is still progressing, the discolored, 
blighted portion blends off gradually into the normal bark, but when 
it has stopped there is a sharp line of demarcation between the dis- 
eased and healthy portions. 


Pear blight is caused by a very minute microbe of the class bacteria. 
This microbe was discovered by Prof. T. J. Burrill, in 1879, and is 
known to science as Bacillus amylovorus. The following are the 
principal proofs that it causes the disease : (1) The microbes are found 
in immense numbers in freshly blighted twigs; (2) they can be taken 
from an affected tree and cultivated in pure cultures, and in this way 
can be kept for months at a time ; (3) by inoculating a suitable healthy 
tree with these cultures the disease is produced; (4) in a tree so inocu- 
lated the microbes are again found in abundance. 


Blight first appears in spring on the blossoms. About the time the 
tree is going out of blossom certain flower, clusters turn black and dry 
up as if killed by frost. This blighting of blossoms, or blossom blight, 
as it is called, is one of the most serious features of pear blight. One 
of the most remarkable things about this disease is the rapidity with 
which it spreads through an orchard at blooming time. This pecu- 
liarity has thrown much light on the way the microbes travel about, 


which they do quite readily, notwithstanding the fact that they are 
surrounded and held together aDd to the tree by sticky and gummy 
substances. They are able to live and multiply in the nectar of the 
blossom, from whence they are carried away by bees and other insects, 
which visit the blossoms in great numbers for the honey and pollen. 
If a few early blossoms are infected, the insects will scatter the disease 
from flower to flower and from tree to tree until it becomes an epi- 
demic in the orchard. We shall see later how the first blossoms are in- 
fected. From the blossoms the disease may extend downward into the 
branches or run in from lateral fruit spurs so as to do a large amount 
of damage by girdling the limbs. Another way in which the blight 
gains entrance is through the tips of growing shoots. In the nursery, 
when trees are not flowering, this is the usual mode of infection. 
This is often called twig blight, a good term to distinguish it from 
blossom blight, provided it is understood that they are simply differ- 
ent modes of attack of the same disease. 


The severity of the attacks, that is, the distance which the blight 
extends down the branches, depends on a number of different condi- 
tions, some of which are under the control of the grower. It is well 
known, however, that the pear and quince are usually attacked of tener 
than the apple. Some varieties of pears, like Duchess and Keiffer, 
resist the disease much better than others, such as Bartlett and Clapps 
Favorite. It may be stated in a general way that the trees most 
severely injured by blight are those which are healthy, vigorous, well 
cultivated, and well fed, or, in other words, those that are making 
rapid growth of new, soft tissues. Climatic conditions greatly influ- 
ence the disease, warm and moist weather, with frequent showers, 
favoring it; dry, cool, and sunny weather hindering it, and very dry 
weather soon checking it entirely. 

The pear-blight microbe is a very delicate organism and can not 
withstand drying for any length of time. In the blighted twigs ex- 
posed to ordinary weather it dries out in a week or two and dies. It 
causes the greater part of the damage in the month or two following 
blossom time, but twig blight may be prevalent at any time through 
the summer when new growth is coming out. In the nursery severe 
attacks often occur through the summer. In the majority of cases, 
however, the disease stops by the close of the growing season. At that 
time the line of separation between the live and dead wood is quite 
marked, and probably not one case in several hundred would be found 
where the diseased wood blends off into the healthy parts and the 
blight is still in active progress. In the old, dried bark, where the 
disease has stopped, the microbes have all died and disappeared. 

It has been claimed that the blight microbe lives over winter in the 
soil, and for a long time the writer supposed this to be the case, but 


after careful investigation the idea was abandoned,, for in no instance 
could it be found there. Unless the microbes keep on multiplying 
and extending in the tree, they soon die out. This is a very impor- 
tant point, for it affords opportunity to strike the enemy at a disad- 
vantage. In certain cases the blight keeps up a sort of slow battle 
with the tree through the summer, so that at the close of the season, 
when the tree goes into a dormant condition, active blight is still at 
work in it. This is also true of late summer and autumn infections. 
In these cases the blight usually continues through the winter. The 
germs keep alive along the advancing margin of the blighted area, 
and although their development is very slow, it is continuous. Prob- 
ably the individual microbes hve longer in winter. At any rate, the 
infected bark retains its moisture longer, and generally the dead bark 
contains living microbes during a much longer period than it does in 
summer. It has already been found that this microbe stands the cold 
well. Even when grown in broth in a warm room they may be frozen 
or placed in a temperature of 0° P. and not suffer. 

When root pressure begins in early spring the trees are gorged with 
sap. Under these favorable conditions the microbes whieh have lived 
over winter start anew and extend into new bark. The new blight 
which has developed in winter and spring is easily recognised by the 
moist and fresh appearance of the blighted bark, as contrasted with 
the old, dead, and dry bark of the previous summer. The warm and 
moist weather whieh usually brings out the blossoms is particularly 
favorable to the development of the disease. At this time it spreads 
rapidly, and the gum is exuded copiously from various points in the 
bark and runs down the tree in a long line. Bees, wasps, and flies are 
attracted to this gum, and undoubtedly carry the microbes to the blos- 
soms. From these first flowers it is carried to others, and so on till 
the blossoms are all killed or until the close of the blooming period. 
Even after the blooming period it is almost certain that insects acci- 
dentally carry the blight to the young tips and so are instrumental in 
causing twig blight also. The key to the whole situation is found in 
those eases of active blight (comparatively few) which hold over 
winter. If they can be found and destroyed, the pear-blight question 
will be solved, for the reason that without the microbes there can be 
no blight, no matter how favorable the conditions may be for it; to 
use a common expression, there will be none left for seed. 


The treatment for pear blight may be classed under two general 
heads: (1) Methods which aim to put the tree in a condition to resist 
blight or to render it less liable to the disease; and (2) methods for 
exterminating the microbe itself, which is of first importance, for if 
carried out fully there ean be no blight. The methods under the first 
head must unfortunately be directed more or less to checking the 


growth of the tree, and therefore are undesirable except in cases 
where it is thought that the blight will eventually get beyond control 
in the orchard. Under the head of cultural methods which favor or 
hinder pear plight, as the case may be, the following are the most 

Pruning. — Pruning in winter time, or when the tree is dormant, 
tends to make it grow and form a great deal of new wood, and on 
that account it favors pear blight. Withholding the pruning knife, 
therefore, may not otherwise be best for the tree, but it will reduce to 
some extent its tendency to blight. 

Fertilising. — The better a tree is fed the worse it will fare when 
attacked by blight. Trees highly manured with barnyard manures 
and other nitrogenous fertilizers are especially liable to the disease. 
Overstimulation with fertilizers is to be avoided, especially if the soil 
is already well supplied. 

Cultivation. — The same remarks apply here as in the case of ferti- 
lizing. A well-cultivated tree is more inclined to blight than one 
growing on sod or untilled land, although the latter often do blight 
badly. Generally good tillage every year is necessary for the full 
development of the pear and quince trees, and is more or less so for 
the apple in many parts of the country, but the thrift that makes a 
tree bear good fruit also makes it susceptible to blight. Check the 
tree by withholding tillage, so that it makes a short growth and bears 
small fruit, and it will be in a better condition to withstand blight 
than it would were it cultivated. In cases where thrifty orchards are 
attacked by blight and threatened with destruction, it may often be 
desirable to plow them once in the spring and harrow soon after the 
plowing, to plow them only, or to entirely withhold cultivation for a 
year, mowing the weeds and grass or pasturing with sheep. A good 
way is to plow the middle of the space between the rows, leaving half 
the ground untouched. 

Irrigation. — In irrigated orchards the grower has the advantage of 
having control of the water supply. When such orchards are attacked, 
the proper thing to do is to withhold the water supply or reduce it to 
the minimum. Only enough should be supplied to keep the leaves 
green and the wood from shriveling. 

Extermination of the blight microbe. — We now come to the only 
really satisfactory method of controlling pear blight — that is, exter- 
minating the microbe, which causes it, by cutting out and burning 
every particle of blight when the trees are dormant. Not a single 
case of active blight should be allowed to survive the winter in the 
orchard or within a half mile or so from it. Every tree of the pome 
family, including the apple, pear, quince, Siberian crab apple, wild 
crab apple, the mountain ash, service berry, and all the species of 
Crataegus, or hawthorns, should be examined for this purpose, the 
blight being the same in all. The orchardist should not stop short of 



absolute destruction of every case, for a few overlooked may go a 
long way toward undoing all his work. Cutting out the blight may 
be done at any time in the winter or spring up to the period when 
growth begins. The best time, however, is undoubtedly in the fall, 
when the foliage* is still on the trees and the contrast between that 
on the blighted and that on the healthy limbs is so great that it is an 
easy matter to find all the blight. It is important to cut out blight 
whenever it is found, even in the growing season. At that time of 
year, however, it can not be hoped to make much headway against 
the disease, as new cases constantly occur which are not sufficiently 
developed to be seen when the cutting is done. In orchards where 
there are only a few trees, and the owner has sufficient time to go over 
them daily, he will be able to save some which would otherwise be 
lost. However, when the trees stop forming new wood, the campaign 
should begin in earnest. 

Of course, the greater part of the blight can be taken out the first 
time the trees are gone over. If this be in midsummer, the trees should 
all be again carefully inspected in the autumn, just before the leaves 
shed, so as to get every case that can be seen at that time. After 
this a careful watch should be kept on the trees, and at least one 
more careful inspection given in spring before the blossoms open. It 
would doubtless be well to look the trees over several times during 
the winter to be certain that the blight is completely exterminated. 
In order to do the inspecting thoroughly it is necessary to go from tree 
to tree down the row, or in the case of large trees to walk up one side 
of the row and down the other, as in simply walking through the 
orchard it is impossible to be certain that every case of blight has 
been cut out. 

The above line of treatment will be even more efficacious in keep- 
ing unaffected orchards free from the blight. A careful inspection 
of all pomaceous trees should be made two or three times during the 
summer and a sharp lookout kept for the first appearance of the 
blight. It usually takes two or three years for the disease in an 
orchard to develop into a serious epidemic, but the early removal of 
the first cases will prevent this and save a great deal of labor later 
and many valuable trees. 

In doing this work it must be remembered that success can be 
attained only by the most careful and rigid attention to details. 
Watch and study the trees, and there is no question that the time 
thus spent will be amply repaid. 


By P. Lamson-Scribner, B. Sc, 
Agrostologist, U. 8. Department of Agriculture. 


Gardens devoted exclusively to grass culture and experiment are 
called grass gardens. Usually their object is to exhibit and test the 
qualities of grasses useful or possibly useful for forage, and other 
plants used for this purpose, the clovers, vetches, etc., have gener- 
ally been given a place in the gardens with them. These gardens are 
museums of living plants, and as such they are particularly interest- 
ing, as they contain the plants which form the basis of agricultural 
pursuits, and are of the greatest importance, directly or indirectly, 
to man. One of the first and most celebrated grass gardens was that 
conducted by Mr. George Sinclair, under the patronage of the Duke 
of Bedford, early in the present century. Within the last few years 
grass gardens have multiplied, both in Europe and in this country; 
here particularly, because of the establishment of the State experi- 
ment stations, many of which make the subject of grass culture an 
important feature of their work. 

Grasses and forage plants exist in great variety, and possess great 
diversity of character. Some are coarse in growth and harsh in tex- 
ture, while the growth of others is fine and tender. Some possess the 
qualities required for making hay; others have characteristics which 
adapt them for grazing. Some possess good turf -forming habits; 
others will make no turf. Some thrive best under the heat of mid- 
summer; others flourish only in the cooler seasons of the year. Some 
present a scanty vegetation at best; others a vigorous and abundant 
growth. All these points and much besides may be observed and 
studied in the grass garden. 


An opportunity is afforded for the comparison of one kind with 
another, and for noting their relative merits for special purposes. 
We may also learn to know all plants advertised by seedsmen, and to 
judge whether the varieties advertised are those we would wish to 
propagate. Again, we may learn to know the native grasses, for these 
should not be omitted from the garden. They should always have a 
place, not only for the reason here suggested — that of becoming 



familiar with their appearance and learning to know them — but 
because they may exhibit under cultivation qualities of usefulness 
little suspected from what they may exhibit in their native stations. 
In a grass garden, however limited in extent, one will soon come to 
recognize by their leaves alone the several species which he may have 
growing in it. He will not have to wait, as does the botanist, for the 
plant to come into flower and mature before he can analyze it. The 
leaves of the several species have their peculiarities — slight differ- 
ences in shape or size, or in the pointing of the tips, but more 
markedly in the variety of their colors — which the close observer will 
soon learn to detect and associate with the several forms (fig. 68). 

.t the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Pla 
foreground. (Engraved from photograph.) 

The gardener will, if his heart is in the work, soon discover indi- 
vidual peculiarities in the plants he cultivates, and detect variations 
which may be found to be as fixed or permanent as those which limit 
species. He may even become attached to individual plants which 
he has thus discovered, and which present to him qualities of special 
excellence, either for the formation of turf, which is what we most 
need, or for production of a superior hay. There are certain grasses 
which exhibit more markedly than others these small yet important 
differences. This is true of Kentucky blue grass, redtop, and some 
of the species of fescue. These are grasses which have a wide 


geographical range, grow on a great variety of soils, and in their habi- 
tats present marked variations in size and general habit of growth, 
in the length, breadth, and color of their leaves, and to some extent 
also in their flowers. The variations appear, however, chiefly in the 
vegetative parts — roots, stems, and leaves — and it is these which give 
the plants their value in agriculture. By special selection of seed or, 
better still, rooted plants, these individual peculiarities may become 
fixed and extended by propagation, and "improved varieties" ob- 
tained, as in the case of Indian corn, wheat, and other plants. These 
are some of the things which may be studied and learned in a grass 
garden of the simplest form. 


To the botanist a grass garden may serve many a useful purpose. 
In it the grasses of all countries may be grown and so arranged in 
their natural tribes and subdivisions, giving to each a space propor- 
tionate to the number of species which it contains, that relationships 
may be studied to the best advantage. In no other way can one more 
readily acquire a knowledge of the grass family as a whole, taking 
it in at a glance, so to speak, than in a garden thus systematically 
arranged. He is presented with an opportunity to study individual 
characters of special interest to him, to test the permanency of these 
peculiarities, as well as the validity of species or varieties. It is 
unfortunate that botanists who make a study of grasses can not visit 
the countries where each and every species grows, but this is impos- 
sible; one is forced to depend upon the collections of many collectors 
who are not always botanists, and who do not always gather material 
in the best shape for study. Not quite so good as seeing the grasses 
in their native habitat, but far better than viewing dried material 
alone, is the possession of a grass garden, where one may at least see 
and study the living plants themselves, although they may be in arti- 
ficial surroundings. There is much to learn from the living plant, 
which never appears in the dead herbarium specimens, and it is very 
likely that the study of living material in the garden will lead to many 
changes or modifications of opinions and conclusions drawn from 
dried and mounted specimens. The grass garden affords its possessor 
an opportunity to make herbarium specimens which can be sent to 
those less fortunate in this possession, and which may also be used 
in making exchanges with other botanists. Likewise seeds may be 
obtained from the grasses grown in the garden, and these may be dis- 
tributed to other gardens or botanical institutions for the purpose of 
diffusing a knowledge of these plants through their multiplication at 
different points. 


The behavior of the grasses during the various seasons of the year 
will determine in some degree the latitude to which they are best 


adapted. Those which grow and thrive under the direct rays of the 
summer sun suggest an adaptability to summer pasturage or success- 
ful cultivation in more southern latitudes. Those which make growth 
only during the cooler seasons of the year, remaining green through 
the winter months, suggest usefulness in a cooler region or value for 
winter pasturage in the South, where such grasses are much needed. 
Again, a protracted period of drought or a season of excessive mois- 
ture may bring out or exhibit qualities in the grasses of the garden 
equally important to know. There are regions in this country in 
which the climate, generally speaking, is moist and cool. There are 
others, of equal or greater area, of little rainfall and light dews. 
Those grasses which may have been cultivated showing a marked 
resistance to long periods of dryness are those most likely to prove 
successful in cultivation in the dryer portions of our territory. 


So far, mention has been made only of what may be learned in a 
garden conducted upon the simplest plan. We may go further, and 
make an experiment station out of it. Usually the gardens are of 
limited extent, because of the care required to maintain them in good 
condition, and the soil of the garden is practically uniform through- 
out. The plat assigned to each species is small, and with a little 
labor we can change the soil of these plats and thus test the adapta- 
bility of a given species to various soils of similar humidity. In the 
same way we may test the various fertilizers, having a number of plats 
of the same species all fertilized in different degrees. If it is desired 
to test the productiveness of any given variety, it is, of course, a 
simple matter to do this by the ordinary process of harvesting a spec- 
ified area and weighing the product. Opportunity is also afforded 
of procuring specimens for chemical analysis during different periods 
of growth. If it is desired to test the turf -forming capacity of any 
of the grasses cultivated, this may be done by close and frequent 
clippings with the lawn mower, and occasional rollings. Turf of 
excellent quality can thus be produced from a number of grasses, and 
if the work is well and carefully done from the beginning, a turf 
garden of exceeding attractiveness may be formed. It is surprising 
what a large number of grasses will submit to this treatment. Many 
species ordinarily regarded as poor turf formers will, when properly 
handled, make excellent turf. For convenience, the grasses which 
it is desired to test as turf formers should occupy a part of the gar- 
den by themselves, or, better still, should have a place entirely sepa- 
rate from the garden, in which the grasses are allowed to go to seed. 

To give this work its highest economic value, cooperative experi- 
ments should be made. The grasses cultivated at one station should 
be grown also at another in a different State, or in regions where the 
climatic and soil conditions are markedly different. Under our system 


of State experiment stations it is possible to do this work, where coop- 
eration can be secured, under the most favorable conditions. In all 
these experiments too hasty conclusions should be avoided. 


Much of the success of a grass garden depends upon the location 
and soil where it is to be established. The garden should have a 
gently sloping surface, it matters little in what direction. In the 
Southern States a northern trend is best, while in the Middle and 
Eastern States an eastern slope is most desirable. If possible, the 
land selected should be in native turf, and artificially, if not natu- 
rally, well drained. Land in native turf is most suitable, for the rea- 
son that it is likely to be most free from weed seeds, and no fertilizer 
will equal this turf when plowed under. The plowing should be done 
in August or September, and by cross plowing and frequent harrow- 
ings in the spring the land should be made as fine as possible, and 
any additional fertilizer that may be required should be applied. In 
laying off the garden, it is customary to adopt rectangular plats of 
a definite fraction of an acre, and this is perhaps the best way where 
it is desired to estimate the product of the several species cultivated. 
The plats or beds should not be raised above the walks. Walks may 
be entirely omitted in gardens devoted to turf culture. If the beds 
should run in lines or bands, they should extend at right angles to 
the slope. 

A more pleasing garden can be obtained by breaking up the rectan- 
gular plan to some extent, introducing broader or narrower beds, or 
longer and shorter ones, or occasionally allowing them to take some 
other shape. In the grass garden at the Department of Agriculture 
there is upon each side of the greater length a double series of beds 
or plats designed for the growth of native and cultivated grasses to 
be allowed to come into flower. Inside of these bands there is a 
narrow line of plats in which are grown various fodder plants — clovers, 
vetches, lupines, etc. — which do not belong to the grass family. Ex- 
tending lengthwise through the center is a series>of larger beds, in 
which are cultivated those grasses which are known or supposed to 
be good formers of turf. These are kept closely mown, and are rolled 
occasionally. It is possible to water any part of the garden by artifi- 
cial means. In the illustration of the garden here presented (fig. 68), 
some idea of its plan may be gathered. The middle plat in the fore- 
ground is composed of the true buffalo grass of the plains, live roots of 
which were planted here late in the spring, and before autumn a very 
close, compact turf was formed, making a pure culture entirely free 
from weeds or other grasses. It is necessary to cultivate the grasses 
in pure cultures if we wish to learn all the facts relative to their indi- 
viduality. Of course, it may sometimes be desirable to test the growth 
and permanence of known mixtures, or to grow two or three varieties 
A 95 11 


together in order to determine which will prove the most vigorous or 
will survive the longest. It is hardly possible to grow pure cultures 
over considerable areas without the expenditure of more time and 
money than the case would probably warrant. If seed is used, whether 
procured from a seedsman or gathered by hand, it should be most 

Fig. 69.— Bouquet of grasses from the grass garden. Includes orchard grass, Texas hlue grass 
tall fescue, Schrader's brome grass, tall meadow oat grass, Kentucky blue grass, redtop, Eng- 
lish foxtail, annual vernal grass, rye grass, etc. (From photograph. ) 

carefully examined, and, after the removal of all foreign ingredients, 
planted in drills, not too thickly. 


This method of planting is necessary to the destruction of the weeds 
and other grasses which may spring up the first season, and which 


can thus be recognized. In the fall the plants thus secured from 
seed can be transplanted and made to cover the area desired for their 
future culture. Live roots or sods are preferable to seeds, for then 
we are sure of what we have, and the material can be set out at once 
where desired. If we are simply making a botanical collection, the 
sods or live roots can, of course, be collected by anyone who has a 
botanical knowledge of plants. When, however, we desire to get 
beyond this and secure the best plants, it is necessary to go over the 
fields and pastures in early spring or during an open winter and col- 
lect those individual specimens which we may find either exhibiting 
qualities superior to their associates or marked by characteristics, 
however derived, which it may seem desirable to perpetuate. 

Of course, a grass garden may be stocked, and abundantly stocked, 
by seed procured from reliable seedsmen. Good seed, true to name, 
may be so obtained, and much may be learned from plants produced 
as indicated above ; but more is to be learned, and perhaps more val- 
uable knowledge gained and more good accomplished, by carefully 
gathering the seeds of our native grasses now unknown to agriculture, 
or only prized by a farmer here and there who may be fortunate 
enough to possess a native patch sufficiently large to attract his atten- 
tion and yield him a choice though limited crop. 


The cultivation of these native grasses in a garden may seem almost 
trivial where, as in many cases, it is not possible to procure much 
more than a pinch of seed, or to give to any one of them much space; 
but all the cultivated grasses and clovers of which we know the his- 
tory have been grown in a small way at first, and even some of the 
varieties of wheat now sown over square miles of our territory were 
first grown in this limited way. We have better grasses and a greater 
variety of them, native to our soil, than we can ever get from Europe, 
and it will not be necessary to grow them ten or twenty years or more 
in order that they may become acclimated, as is the case with those 
imported. There are sixty native species of clovers found in the 
United States; there are more than sixty kinds of blue grass, distinct 
botanical species; there are twenty or more good grazing grasses 
related to the buffalo grass; there are fourscore or more of native 
lupines, and twoscore vetches, which have yet to be tried in our agri- 
culture ; and then there are the brome grasses and meadow grasses 
and pasture grasses and hay grasses, almost numberless, suitable to 
every kind of soil and rock formation and climate. And of all this 
wealth of kinds, the natural heritage of our country, hardly more 
than a dozen have been brought into cultivation. 


The importance of introducing new grasses, and of efforts to im- 
prove those already cultivated, can not be overestimated. We are by 


no means certain that we are now cultivating the best kinds, or that 
these have been brought to their highest degree of perfection. New 
and peculiar varieties may be produced, adapted to special purposes, 
combining the excellence of two or more species, and thus adding 
largely to the value of our pastures and meadows. This improvement 
would also extend to the stock feeding upon the improved grasses, 
yielding a better quality of beef, butter, etc. With a more intelli- 
gent selection of hay plants for cultivation, the average production per 
acre, which is now 1.14 tons, might be raised to 1£ or 2 tons. If this 
latter amount could have been attained in 1894, it would have added 
41,396,483 tons to the total hay crop of that year. 


A grass garden, in the broad, agricultural sense, of course, includes 
the so-called "artificial" grasses, the clovers, and other fodder plants, 
which may be cultivated for hay or pasturage. These are grown in 
the garden for the same purpose as the true grasses, namely, to exhibit 
the several and varied kinds, to test new or untried varieties, and to 
raise material of the -more promising sorts for further and wider prop- 
agation. From time to time seedsmen advertise new varieties of 
fodder plants for which they sometimes claim astonishing merits of 
productiveness, or resistance to this contingent of dryness, or that 
of poor soil, or extremes of heat and cold, and it should be the func- 
tion of these gardens, if conducted under State or national authority, 
to investigate these plants, to cultivate them in the garden, and then 
to inform the public as to their real merits. The farmer who might 
be led by glowing advertisements to spend his hard-earned savings 
for seeds of worthless plants has in such gardens a real and vital inter- 
est, for they are designed to, and will, protect him from unscrupulous 
dealers, or prevent foolish expenditures, leading only to financial loss 
and disappointment. 

The grass garden is designed to afford an opportunity to carry on 
the various lines of work and investigations here pointed out. What 
work has more practical significance, or can be more important? 


By Jared G. Smith, 
Assistant Agrostologist, U. 8. Department of Agriculture. 


There are in the valley of the Mississippi and its tributaries more 
than 500,000,000 acres of prairies, covered with the characteristic 
black alluvial soil. It is the largest compact body of agricultural 
lands in all the world. There are other similar regions of less extent 
in Argentina and European Russia in which the black loam lies just 
as deep and the broad acres are just as fertile, but there is no like 
extent of territory where the climatic conditions are so favorable to 
the development of agriculture in its most intensive and profitable 
state. All plains regions, because of their physical configuration, 
are subject to great and sudden changes of temperature, there being 
nothing to break the force or alter the direction of the powerful 
winds that continually sweep over them. But lying, as our Western 
prairies do, entirely within the temperate zone, the conditions of ex- 
istence are better there than in any other similar region. The prairies 
are neither devastated by the terribly destructive pampero of sub- 
tropical Argentina, nor are they subject to the intense winter cold of 
subarctic Russia. They are so situated that all the conditions gov- 
erning the growth, development, and perfection of cereal crops are of 
the best, in the same ratio that the social status and position of the 
American farmer is better than that of any other people. 

The area of the black soils and plains of European Russia is 665,000 
square miles, of which 250,000,000 acres, or nearly 60 per cent, may 
be designated as farm lands, suitable for some form of agriculture. 
Argentina possesses 740,000 square miles of pampas and plains, of 
which less than 200,000,000 acres are suitable for farming.. The 
arable prairies of the 13 States and Territories, from North Dakota 
and Ohio to Texas, amount to about one-half of their total area, or 
fully 300,000,000 acres. 

There are large bodies of alluvial soils in China, but their products 
have never entered into competition with our corn and wheat and 
cattle in the markets of the world, and probably never will. There 
are smaller belts of wheat and corn lands in India and Australia and 
South Africa, but the chief sources of competition, and those we have 
most to fear, are Russia and Argentina. With the opening up of 



great bodies of new lands in the countries named, suited to the cul- 
tivation of corn, wheat, flax, tobacco, and cotton, the world's supply 
of agricultural products is increasing more rapidly than the demand. 
There has been a steady decline in the prices of farm products, and 
the margins of profit are continually becoming less. Every year 
emphasizes the need of a more diversified system of agriculture. 

The farmer, to succeed, must not depend upon one crop, be it corn, 
wheat, or cotton. Extensive farming can not be practiced except on 
cheap, new lands, and it is the corn and wheat harvested from such 
lands that govern the price. The farmer in Kansas whose land is 
worth $40 per acre, and who pays a high price for labor, can not com- 
pete at growing corn and wheat 
with the Argentinian or Rus- 
sian farmer whose land is worth 
$10 per acre, and who pays low 
wages for labor, so long as both 
send their grain to the same 
market. The margin of profit 
for the latter is greater, and he 
can afford to sell his grain for 
less than it costs the American 
farmer to produce it. It is the 
general belief that this compe- 
tition will increase rather than 
diminish during the next quar- 
ter century. The remedy for 
this condition of affairs is to 
be sought in a more diversified 
system of agriculture, in the 
production upon each farm of 
a greater variety of things to 
sell, and by raising products 
of a better quality. 

The amount of raw prairie 
land suitable for farming is 
rapidly becoming less, and be- 
fore we have converted all of it into plowed land let us consider 
whether such a course is most advisable. There is no longer any 
large tract of unbroken prairie east of the Mississippi River. The 
prairies are now confined to the Dakotas, southern Minnesota, Iowa, 
Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Indian Territory, and Texas. In all 
these States the richest of the prairies have been converted into 
wheat, corn, or cotton fields, to add by their products to the congested 
condition of the world's markets. 

For many years our agricultural prophets have been predicting just 
the state of affairs that has come to pass, and have been preaching 

Fig. 70. — Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides). 


less corn, wheat, and cotton, and more grass and cattle. It is human 
nature to wish to become rich as quickly as possible, and most farmers 
have chosen the corn and wheat route as being the shortest crosscut 
to wealth by giving the largest returns for the least labor. The advan- 
tages of raising enough grass to feed a sufficient number of cattle to 
eat the corn on the farm have been lost sight of. It has been demon- 
strated both by experiment and practice that the farmer who sells 
beef, pork, and mutton that he has produced from corn and grass 
raised and fed on the farm makes more money per acre of his land 
and per dollar of his capital than the one who grows only wheat or 
corn or cotton. It is not necessary to entirely discontinue raising 
these crops, but if we are to produce a surplus to be sold in foreign 
markets, it is best to export that surplus in the most condensed and 
marketable form, as meat and animal products, that people want to 
buy, rather than in the original crude and bulky state, that people do 
not want to buy. 

The forage question in the prairie States practically resolves itself 
into — Shall we raise more cattle upon the farm ? or, opposed to that, 
Shall we plant more corn? A proper discussion of the subject of the 
forage conditions of the prairie States can not be undertaken without 
a thorough understanding of the necessity that has arisen for the more 
extensive use of forage crops. The entire cattle and sheep industry 
is absolutely dependent upon the question of forage. The United 
States sells abroad about 350,000 head of fat cattle each year. The 
market is always open for a quality of beef better suited to the buyer's 
taste. An overstocking of the markets will never occur if we send 
only products of the best quality; and the best quality of beef, mutton, 
milk, butter, and cheese can be produced only by the proper use of 
the best forage crops. Viewed from this standpoint, the future for the 
cultivation of forage crops is very bright all through the prairie States. 

The prairies in their wild state were covered with the richest possi- 
ble grass flora. There was no similar region that had so many useful 
species and so few poisonous or injurious ones. Almost any square 
mile of the whole extent of territory could furnish in one season 50 
kinds of grasses and native forage plants, grasses that would make 
from one and a half to two tons of hay per acre as rich as that from 
an Old World meadow. It was a magnificent legacy to the rancher 
and the farmer. To the one it promised food for a million cattle; to 
the other it proved the golden possibilities of a soil that would bring 
forth bountiful harvests. But within the last thirty years all this has 
changed. We can no longer point to our broad prairies and say that 
the natural forage conditions here are the best in the world. Hardly 
an acre remains anywhere east of the ninety-seventh meridian that 
will still yield its ton and a half of prairie hay. There is hardly a 
square mile of prairie sod that will produce 30 kinds of native wild 
grasses and clovers per annum. 


The nutritious mesquite and buffalo grasses (fig. 70) have been 
driven to occupy the waste lands along roadsides and railway tracks, 
where they are rapidly being choked out and exterminated by weeds. 
Many of these wild grasses are superior in nutritious qualities, as 
shown by chemical analyses and digestive tests, to the cultivated or 
"tame " grasses of which we buy seeds from foreign countries. Many 
of the native prairie species have seeds that are just as easy to har- 
vest as those of timothy, rye grass, tall oat grass, and dozens of other 
tame species, but they have never been collected in sufficient quan- 
tities to place upon the market or to make long-continued tests as to 
their adaptability to cultivation. These wild species should be taken 
care of until we are sure that we have not something better. They 
are acclimated. They will endure drought and freezing and flooding 
and all the other climatic excesses to which they have been subject 
for centuries. They are the best grasses for the region, because they 
are the natives of the region. It behooves us to plant seeds of these 
prairie species before some foreign seedsman sells them to us for their 
weight in gold, with the promise that they will yield a hundred tons 
of fodder to the acre. 

East of the ninety-seventh meridian the yearly precipation averages 
from 30 to 40 inches. This belt has been termed the "humid" prairie 
region, having sufficient rainfall nine years in every ten to insure fair 
crops. Here tame grasses and clovers are uniformly successful. It is 
in the "arid" and "semiarid" prairie belts that there is the greatest 
need of thorough and long-continued experiments with the grasses 
and forage plants. It is in the arid prairie region that native 
grasses will be especially valuable in cultivation, because they will 
not have to be acclimated. 


Those portions of Kansas and Nebraska that lie west of the one 
hundredth meridian, and a considerable range of territory extending 
as far east as the ninety-seventh, constituting what is known as the 
arid and semiarid belts, receive only from 15 to 22 inches of rain per 
year. In the most favorable seasons these lands, which are exceed- 
ingly fertile, produce large crops of corn, wheat, and other cereals; 
but such favorable seasons are uncommon, the average for any series 
of years being only about two out of five, so that farming, in so far 
as it relates to the growing of cereals, yields only a bare living. 

The amount of water that the arid prairies receive would be suffi- 
cient if it were distributed uniformly through the winter and the 
growing season, or if it came in drizzling showers so that it would 
all be absorbed ; but it usually comes in sudden torrents. A small 
amount is caught and held by the soil, and a larger amount is carried 
away by the streams. The arid and semiarid lands vary from 1,500 
to 3,000 feet in elevation. They were originally covered with a turf 



composed of buffalo, grama, mesquite, blue stem, and wild-wheat 
grasses, that formed an excellent natural pasture for the immense 
herds of buffalo, elk, and antelope, and later for the ranch cattle. 
These lands can not be called agricultural. True, they have a rich 
soil and will yield bountiful crops under irrigation or in good seasons 
when the rainfall is properly distributed, but so long as these con- 
ditions are beyond control and can not be supplied the lands do 
not and will not compete with those of the more humid regions 
farther east. There may be isolated valleys all through this high 
prairie where the "water 
table" stands so near to the 
surface that crops can send 
their roots down to it, and 
where the under-ground water 
is in quantity sufficient to be 
used for irrigating small 
patches, but the bulk of the 
lands can not profitably be 
used for farming. It is a graz- 
ing and not a farming section. 

The close buffalo grass or 
grama sod sheds water as well 
as a shingle roof. The sur- 
face soil may become moist to 
the depth of 2 or 3 or 4 feet 
beneath such a sod; then for 
a great depth the subsoil is 
absolutely dry down to the 
water table, or point at which 
water may be obtained in 
wells. This was the condi- 
tion of the plains of eastern 
. Colorado at the time the first 
irrigation ditches were con- 
structed, twenty years ago, 
and the same condition of 
affairs exists to-day through 
the whole arid region. It is well known that after the opening up 
of an irrigation ditch through such soil the absorption of water is 
enormous, and this soaking up of water continues until the subsoil is 
saturated to a depth of 40 feet or more. It would take a hundred 
years to fill the subsoils of the arid region in this way if the water 
supply were available, which it is not. 

If it were desired to change western Kansas and Nebraska from a 
grazing to a farming region, the most practicable way would be to 
break up every acre of the prairie sod to enable the ground to absorb 
A 95 11* 

h e e 

PIG. 71.— Little blue stem (Andropogon scoparins). 


more of the annual precipitation. If this were to be done, it would 
take perhaps ten years to saturate the subsoil to a sufficient depth. 
Such a course would be neither practicable nor desirable, as there is 
already too much land available for growing cereals. These high 
arid and semiarid prairies are fine grazing lands, and will continue 
so for many years if they are properly treated. 


The big and bushy blue stems (Andropogon furcatus and A. nutans) 
are leafy perennial grasses that grow best along sloughs and bottom 
lands and on the moist upland soils. Twenty-five years ago they 
were confined mostly to the valleys, but as the country has become 
more thickly settled they have continued to spread over the uplands. 
They are now the dominant grasses of the humid prairies, contributing 
fully 60 per cent of the wild hay cut in the whole region. Both these 
grasses stand pasturing well, and both show such a preference for 
moist, loose soils that they will undoubtedly do well under cultivation. 
Hay cut from prairie meadows, where the blue stems predominate, is 
considered first class. Stock relish it, and eat it as well as they would 
the best tame hay. 

Chemical analysis shows that these grasses are very nutritious. 

Hay of — 

Where grown. 







Andropogon furcatus . 


Indian Territory . 
South Dakota 








2 14 

Indian Territory. 
South Dakota 


The above table is a compilation of various analyses that have 
been made of hay of these two species grown in the prairie region. 
These species extend from North Dakota to Texas and east and west 
throughout the humid and semiarid belts. They are less abundant 
in the arid prairies and ranges, where their place is taken by the 
little blue stem or bunch grass {Andropogon scoparius). The latter 
is smaller and less leafy, and the stems become so hard and woody 
after flowering that cattle will not touch it as long as there is any- 
thing else to eat. When young, bunch grass makes good pasturage, 
but it is too much like the broom sedge of the South {A. virginicus) 
to ever be of much value. 

Switch grass, or false redtop (Panicum virgatum), extends over the 
whole prairie region, and grows both in the fertile valleys and on the 
more sterile and drier hills. It forms a considerable percentage of 
some hay, but ought to be cut before the stems get hard and woody. 
It makes a coarser hay than the blue stems. In pastures it is not of 



so much value. The seeds are large and abundant, and easily 
gathered. It grows well under cultivation and, while we would not 
recommend it to be sowed alone, it will undoubtedly be valuable in 
mixtures with other grasses. It is a vigorous grower, and will neither 
winterkill in North Dakota nor succumb to drought in the arid sec- 
tions of Kansas or Nebraska. The following table gives its chemical 
composition : 

Hay of— 

Where grown. 







Panicum virgatum . 

Indian Territory .. 












South Dakota 


The various species of wild-wheat grass are the predominant hay 
grasses of the arid and semiarid prairies. They have, as a common 
characteristic, tough under-ground stems or creeping rootstocks, and 
form a close, tough sod. The stems are leafy and nutritious. Wheat- 
grass hay is eaten greedily by all kinds of stock. These grasses will 
stand a great deal of hard usage, and are perfectly hardy in either 
drought or cold. They are a very valuable component of the natural 
range pastures. They do as well under cultivation as in the wild 
state, and deserve to be taken care of. The following table gives 
their chemical composition : 

Hay of— 









S. Dakota. 









9 22 

8 99 

Agropyrum caninum 

Agropyrum Richardsoni 

Agropyrum tenerum 




The best and most widely distributed of these species is the West- 
ern wheat grass (Agropyrum spicatum), which occurs from North 
Dakota to western Kansas and westward through the plains and 
Rocky Mountain region. Wherever it grows it is highly esteemed. 
Meadows in the sand-hill region of Nebraska, where there was hardly 
any other grass, have yielded 2 tons of hay per acre. Most of the 
hay cut in the arid region of Nebraska and the Dakotas consists of 
one or more of these five wild- wheat grasses. They mature earlier in 
the season than the blue stems, and to make the best quality of forage 
should be cut before the seed is ripe. 

The gramas, or mesquite grasses, are valuable species. Mesquite, 
side-oats grass, or grama (Bouteloua curtipendula),is a very leafy 
species that forms about 10 per cent of the hay cut on the uplands 


of the "humid" prairie region. It is, like the big and bushy blue 
stems, spreading rapidly. It does not make a close turf, like the other 
gramas, but grows in mixtures with the leafy prairie species. Side- 
oats grass stands pasturing well, and is not injured by continued cut- 
tings. The other two species, white grama (B. oligostachya) and blue 
grama (B. hirsuta), while they do occur scattered through the prairie 
flora of the eastern prairie region, do not figure as hay grasses. They 
are most plentiful on the ranges, where, with buffalo grass, they make 
up about 50 per cent of the total wild forage. They are low, close- 
growing species, that make 
dense mats of turf, often 
many yards in diameter, to 
the exclusion of all other 
species. They will live 
through a vast amount of 
trampling, close grazing, 
drying, and hard usage, and 
their fine leaves and stems 
make the best kind of sum- 
mer and winter pasture. 
They will not be as valuable 
under cultivation as the 
side-oats grama, except in 
a mixture for pastures. 
Like the true buffalo grass, 
these grasses can not live 
through the changed con- 
ditions that have been 
brought about in the agri- 
cultural sections, and are 
rapidly disappearing. On 
the ranges, however, they 
are still quite plentiful. 
The praises of buffalo grass 
(Buchloe dactyloides) have 
long been sung, and there 
is not a farmer or a rancher 
in all the prairie region that 
does not know the value of 
this species. It has been tried in cultivation in the Eastern States, and 
promises to become one of the very best pasture grasses. It makes a 
remarkable growth when transferred to the heavy clay soils of the 
East, where the rainfall is much greater than in its native habitat. It 
can be established in a meadow by scattering the roots and fragments of 
turf in shallow furrows, in the same way that Bermuda grass is started 
in the South. We know that the value of this grass in permanent 

Fia. 72.— Side-oats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula). 



prairie pastures is great, and that it will survive drought and intense 
cold, but, like most other native species, it can be exterminated by 
overstocking the pastures in which it grows. In the sandy Platte, 
Republican, and Arkansas valleys it spreads rapidly on irrigated 
fields, and will drive out such strong-rooted grasses as Hungarian 
brome and timothy, which are not natives of that region. The habit 
of growth of buffalo grass is such that it can live through long 
droughts, but it must not be supposed on that account that it will 
thrive under such unfavorable conditions. A cactus plant will live a 
year without water in the Arizona or Chihuahua desert, but if it is 
transplanted to some garden where it can be watered, it will grow ten 
times as rapidly as before. It is the same with the buffalo grass. It 
only needs to be transplanted to places where it can get more water, 
and it will hold the ground against the encroachments of the taller- 
growing species. It is one of the earliest grasses to appear in spring, 
and furnishes fine forage through the winters. The following table 
gives chemical analyses by Shepard of gramas and buffalo grass col- 
lected in South Dakota: 

Hay of- 

Buchloe dactyloides 

Bouteloua curtipendula 
Bouteloua oligostachya. 
Bouteloua hirsuta 



























There are two species of prairie June grass, or early bunch grass 
(Eatonia obtusata and Kceleria cristata), widely distributed through 
the whole prairie region. They are early grasses, ripening their seed 
during June and July. The prairie June grass {Kmleria) is a partic- 
ularly promising species on account of its abundance of long root 
leaves, which continue green through the season after the seed has 
ripened. In eastern Nebraska these species together furnish 10 or 15 
per cent of the prairie hay, especially of that cut on the moist upland 
prairies. They stand pasturing well, and, like the buffalo grass, 
mature early. Both do well under cultivation. They are best prop- 
agated by seed, which ripens in large quantities each year and is not 
hard to collect. 

Analyses of these grasses, made by Shepard at the South Dakota 
station in 1894, show their chemical composition to be as follows : 

Hay of— 















There are many other nutritious and hardy species that are distrib- 
uted throughout the prairie region, contributing value to the native 
grass flora. Some of these are limited in their distribution to partic- 
ular soils and are there the dominant species of the pastures and 
meadows. There are grasses in North Dakota that do not grow in 
Kansas, and grasses considered valuable in one section or upon one 
soil that would be worthless if transplanted to other soils. But the 
species just enumerated are the most important ones of the prairie 
region as a whole. They are the grasses which furnish 90 per cent of 
the wild hay and pasture. They are also those best adapted for con- 
servation and cultivation. 

Another hay and pasture grass is cord grass (Spartina cynosu- 
roides), that grows along wet river bottoms and sloughs, and, with a 
number of sedges and rushes, makes a fair quality of coarse hay. 
Mixed with it on the bottom lands are usually found the various 
kinds of wild-rye grass (Elymus sp.). All of these are better for 
hay than for pasture. On the dry hills of the James and Missouri 
valleys in Dakota, and in the sandhills of Nebraska and Kansas, blue 
stem (Calamagrostis canadensis), sand grass (C. confinis and Cala- 
movilfa longifolia), turkey- foot (Andropogon hallii), and the needle 
grasses (Aristida and Stipa), all of them strong-growing species and 
rather coarse and woody compared with the blue stems, furnish ex- 
cellent pasturage and, when cut in time, a fair quality of hay. The 
alkaline soils have their salt grass (Distichlis) and wild barley (Hor- 
deum), and a scant covering of lowly annuals. The false redtops 
(Eragrostis pectinacea and Triodia purpurea) are common autumnal 
grasses on the upland prairies of eastern Nebraska and Kansas. 
There are also species of native clovers (Petalostemon), vetches 
(Vicia and Lathyrus), shoe strings (Psoralea, Dalea, and Amorpha), 
rattle pods (Astragalus), and beggar weeds (Desmodium), widely dis- 
tributed through the prairie States that add to the value of the 
wild meadows. One of them, wild vetch (Hosackia purshiana), 
is very abundant in the valleys from the . Blue River to the upper 
Missouri. It is worth as much to the stockmen on the ranges as 
many of the tame clovers are to the farmers of the Eastern States. 
This wild vetch thrives under cultivation, and ought to be planted 
on a larger scale. 


The yield of wild hay in the prairie region is far from uniform, 
depending as it does upon the amount and distribution of rainfall 
through the growing season. Hay meadows that are cut continuously 
fo» a number of years deteriorate rapidly, both as to yield and quality 
of hay. The latter depends upon the relative amount of weeds that 
the hay contains. 

Wild meadows are not given the same treatment as tame mead- 
ows. They are neither reseeded by the farmer nor allowed to reseed 



themselves. The natural result is that the vitality of the grasses is 
diminished and they are unable to hold their own against the weedy 
perennials that are so abundant in all prairies. These weeds increase 
so rapidly that they soon gain the upper hand and become more 
numerous than the grasses, and the meadow loses its value as hay 
land. Good hay land is worth anywhere in the West $10 to $20 per 
acre more than any other class of raw prairie. An average yield 
from such meadow land is a ton and a half to the acre. In excep- 
tional seasons it often amounts to 2 or 2£ tons, while in years of 
drought it falls to a ton or 
less. The price of good prai- 
rie hay varies from $2.50 to 
$10 per ton, baled, at the 
railroad, according as the 
visible supply of hay varies 
throughout the United 

With such yearly yields, 
and at such prices, it will 
pay to improve the prairie 
meadows, so that the product 
shall not decrease in amount 
or deteriorate in quality. 
The wild hay grasses should 
be permitted to reseed them- 
selves, if not one year in 
three, at least one in four or 
five. Cutting the grass early 
in the season would help to 
keep down the weeds. It is 
a matter of observation that 
the species of weeds which 
increase most rapidly in the 
hay fields are those that blos- 
som and ripen their seeds 
before the hay is ready to 
cut. Their increase can be 
checked only by cutting 
them while they are in flower, and thus preventing the seed from 
ripening. The intermingled mass of weeds and grass along the 
sloughs and draws or on the ground where old stacks have stood 
should be mowed and burned, or at least raked off the field. Other- 
wise these weed patches will grow in size from year to year and 
reduce the yield of hay. 

The hay crop of the West is a money crop that annually brings in 
hundreds of thousands of dollars. As the acreage of raw prairie 

Pig. 73.— Big blue stem (Andropogon furcatus). 


decreases the value of prairie hay will continue to increase, so that 
to properly care for the hay meadows and prolong their period of 
usefulness will become a paying investment. 

The prairies in their natural state were covered with an exceed- 
ingly rich grass flora. They were superb grazing grounds, clothed 
from early spring to late autumn with a succession of the most nutri- 
tious grasses, and in winter with standing hay as good as or better 
than tame hay. Forage was plentiful and cheap — to be had for the 
cost of gathering it. The early settler saw no need of cultivating 
grasses and clovers, for was there not at his very door better pasture 
and better hay land than he could get with his timothy and clover in 
many years at much labor and expense ? Those who are interested 
in better forage conditions for the prairie States have continually 
to face this argument, even in sections where the best native grasses 
have been all but exterminated. Farmers in the West say that 
prairie hay is better and cheaper than tame hay, and if cattle will 
live through a winter on what they can pick up from the prairies, 
what is the use of planting all these forage crops ? Such has undoubt- 
edly been the state of affairs over the entire region, but it can not 
last much longer, and if we want to be forehanded and prevent the 
great losses of live stock that occur every time there is a bad season, 
we must take time by the forelock. To depend upon the natural hay 
to carry a herd through the winter, is trusting too much to chance. 
If there is a mild winter, without heavy snows, the cattle sometimes 
make a considerable gain in weight by the time grass starts in the 

The occurrence of such a winter or series of winters always causes 
a boom in the cattle industry. But if the winter is severe, with heavy 
snows that do not drift but lie evenly over the ground, cattle can not 
pick up enough of this natural hay to more than sustain life, and the 
herd comes out poorer in spring by a good many tons' weight of fat 
and flesh. To make good beef and raise cattle at a profit it is neces- 
sary to keep the steer growing continuously from birth until it is 
ready for slaughter. The more rapid the growth the sooner cattle 
can be turned off; and the quality of the beef will be better, com- 
manding higher prices. The only natural solution of this problem is 
to raise grasses and clovers so as to be able to supplement the scanty 
feed in periods of scarcity. 

Thus we see that the problem of improved forage conditions in the 
prairie region, whether looked at from the standpoint of the farmer 
or from that of the stockman, centers upon the one question, Shall 
we plant grasses? To this there can be but the one answer: As the 
cultivation of grasses and forage plants is at the foundation of agri- 
culture, if we are to improve the quality of our farming lands and 
increase their capacity for production, we must devote more acres to 
grass. It is absolutely necessary to impress this fact upon the intel- 
ligent and progressive farmer. 



The statement is often made that the tame grasses and clovers will 
not do as well on the rich prairie loam as on the heavier soils of the 
Eastern United States. We hear farmers say that the reason they do 
not sow grasses is because they will not grow. There is no soil better 
adapted to grass culture than one that has been made by grass. But, 
as in everything else, one must know how to treat his grass crop to 
make it succeed. The crops obtained from new land for the first 
dozen years are so abundant and the yields are so great, compared 
with the amount of labor that the farmer must bestow upon his field 
to obtain them, that he often forgets that there may still be some 
things that require care to produce. Tame grasses will grow in any 
of the prairie States, but they must be given as much care and culti- 
vation in Nebraska as they receive in New York. 


The dairying industry is growing very rapidly in the prairie States, 
where hundreds of creameries have been started within the last six 
years. The question of summer forage is therefore becoming an 
important one, for there is usually a period of from four to eight 
weeks in late summer when pasturage is scanty. A succession of 
forage crops is needed, especially such as will furnish green food in 
early spring and during the August and September drought and in 
late autumn, when pastures are bare. 

Very little has been done in this line, so that in recommending such 
fodder crops we can only draw upon our knowledge of what ought to 
do well under the known conditions of the region. What is needed is 
some plant or plants that will send roots down deep in early summer, 
something that will withstand the heat and drying winds of August 
and September, when no water is to be had anywhere except in the 
subsoil. For such forage plants we must look among the deep-feeding 
clovers and their relatives. Hairy vetch and field peas make excel- 
lent green fodder for milch cows, fed alone or with rye. These and 
crimson clover, sowed in early spring, would furnish an abundance of 
forage up to the time when green corn and millet are ready. Cow- 
peas and soja (or soy) beans planted alone in drills or in the corn 
rows, any time from the middle of May to the middle of June, will be 
ready to feed during August and until the first frost in September. 
Then, to supplement the pumpkins and root crops that ought to be 
grown on every dairy farm for autumn feed, there should be more 
vetches and crimson clover planted in the latter part of August, pro- 
vided there is moisture enough in the soil to start the seed. Cowpeas 
do not usually ripen seed farther north than Kansas, but the seed is 
cheap and easily obtained, and the forage is excellent in quality and 
quantity. These and the soja beans are among the richest and most 
nutritious plants of the clover family. 
A 95 nj 


To obtain the best results and utilize as much as possible of the 
food which they contain, these crops should be fed with some coarse 
fodder, such as corn, millet, or sorghum. They may be called con- 
centrated foods when compared with the latter, because they approach 
in their chemical composition wheat bran, linseed and peanut meal, 
and cotton-seed cake, which are fed with the winter rations. All 
dairymen and stock feeders recognize that these two classes of forage 
must be combined to produce milk or meat at the lowest cost, and 

often the desired nitrogenous 
food can be produced more 
cheaply upon the farm in the 
form of some one of these 
clovers and beans than it can 
be purchased as bran or oil 
cake. Thus it becomes 
doubly important that the 
acreage of summer forage 
crops shall be increased. 



There has been much writ- 
ten and said within the last 
ten years about the deterio- 
ration of the ranges. Cattle- 
men say that the grasses are 
not what they used to be; 
that the valuable perennial 
species are disappearing, 
and that their place is being 
taken by less nutritious an- 
nuals. This is true in a very 
marked degree in many sec- 
tions of the grazing country. 
The one great mistake in 
the treatment of the cattle 
ranges, the one which always 
proves most disastrous from a financial standpoint, is overstock- 
ing. It is something which must always be guarded against. The 
maximum number of cattle that can safely be carried on any 
square mile of territory is the number that the land will support 
during a poor season. Whenever this rule is ignored there is bound 
to be loss. The present shortage of cattle all through the West is 
due to the fact that the ranges were stocked up to the limit that they 
would carry during the series of" exceptionally favorable grass years 
preceding the years of drought. Then followed a series of bad years, 

Fig. 74. — White grama (Bouteloua oligostachya). 


when the native perennial grasses did not get rain enough to more 
than keep them alive. The cattle on the breeding grounds of the 
West and Southwest died by thousands from thirst and starvation. It 
may seem like throwing away money not to have all the grass eaten 
down, but in the long run there will be more profit if there are fewer 
head carried per square mile. 

The most nutritious grasses are not the annuals, which live only just 
long enough to produce seed and then die, but the perennial ones, 
which store up in their stems and running rootstocks quantities of 
starch and gums and sugars, to be used by the plant when growth 
commences, at the end of the winter, or dormant, period. The peren- 
nial grasses are the ones that furnish the "natural hay" or winter 
forage. On those prairie pastures which are not overstocked a large 
percentage of all the grasses produce seed, a condition necessary if 
the continued existence of any species is to be maintained. But where 
there are too many cattle on the range, the flowering stems of the 
grasses are eaten off just as soon as they appear, and the grass is often 
"eaten into the ground." It is with these wild grasses just as it is 
with the tame ones. If the perennial species are not allowed to reseed 
themselves, if every leaf is eaten off just as soon as it peeps from the 
sod, the plants can not survive. A turf grass like Kentucky blue 
grass will stand such treatment, but the grasses of the plains and arid 
prairies are not turf formers. They are for the most part "bunch 
grasses," and can not quickly adapt themselves to the changed con- 
ditions which require them to spread by sending out creeping runners 
beneath the sod. Their numbers have always been kept up by free 

Clearly, then, if the grazing quality of the ranges is to be improved, 
they must be so treated that the nutritious native species of grasses 
and forage plants can spread by means of the ripened seed. This 
can be accomplished by dividing the range up into separate pastures 
and grazing the different fields in rotation. There is a constant 
succession of species that ripen their seed from June until October, 
commencing with Koderia, Eatonia, Stipa, and Buchloe in June and 
July, and ending with Andropogon, Sporobolus, and Triodia in Octo- 
ber. If these grasses are killed out, their places will be taken by 
annuals of weedy proclivities, such as the numerous species of Era- 
gfostis and Aristida, which are neither lasting nor nutritious; grasses 
that spring up with the early summer rains, ripen an abundance of 
seed, and die. 

Another result of overstocking the ranges is the injury that comes 
from the trampling and packing of the soil through the cattle having 
to travel long distances to water. In the grazing regions of Australia, 
which are for the most part as dry or dryer than our ranges, the 
squatters (ranchmen) depend upon surface water the year round. 
Each separate pasture or paddock has its artificial pond or "tank," 


constructed where it will catch the surface flow in the wet season. 
Such artificial ponds scattered over the ranges would obviate the 
trouble that comes from cattle having to travel long distances for 
water. It would be well if this system were more widely adopted in 
our own country. 


The success or failure of the cattle industry all through the prairie 
States depends upon the question of a sufficient supply of grasses 
and forage plants. In those sections of the country in which land is 
in the highest state of cultivation and the soiling method of feeding 
cattle is employed, three acres of ground will support five head of 
cattle per annum. This is at the rate of 1,066 cattle to the square 

If the 300,000,000 acres of arable land in the Mississippi Valley 
were to be devoted to such an intensive system of agriculture, and 
the productiveness of the land were equal throughout all the prairie 
States, more cattle could be raised each year than are consumed in 
the whole world. This grand total will give an idea of the possibili- 
ties of the land if the best crops are raised and the best agricultural 
methods are employed. 

Such an enormous production of forage and stock would not be 
warranted. The feeding of cattle for the domestic or foreign market 
is no more a golden road to wealth than is the cultivation of corn or 
wheat or cotton. The market can be glutted even with cattle and 
meat products. The supply must be kept within the limits of demand. 
We do not recommend that every farmer shall abandon wheat, corn, 
and cotton to devote his whole farm to the production of grasses and 
forage plants and of the stock to eat them, but we do recommend 
that every prairie farmer shall cultivate at least ten acres of grasses 
and clovers. 


By F. Lamson-Scribneb, B. Sc, 
Agrostologist, U. S. Department of Agriculture, 

No one who has traveled along the shores of New England and the 
Middle States can fail to have noticed the numerous hive-shaped 
stacks of hay thickly scattered over the extensive marshes which 
border these coasts. The character of this hay and the elements of 
which it is composed can not fail to be of interest, for they are wholly 
unlike those of other regions; and the hay itself, while less valuable 
than that usually found in our markets, serves many a useful pur- 
pose and forms a very important item of local trade. In olden times 
the products of the salt marshes were not forgotten by the coast 
dwellers of New England in their annual acknowledgment of bless- 
ings bestowed by Providence, when thanks were returned upon the 
day which is now one of national observance. 


The area of the salt and tide-water marshes bordering the ocean 
and gulf coasts of the United States is roughly estimated at from 
6,000,000 to 7,000,000 acres. A considerable portion of this, particu- 
larly along the river banks of the Southern States, is beyond the 
reach of salt water, and possesses a different vegetation from that 
which comes under the direct influence of the sea and which alone is 
considered here. The salt marshes proper, which are covered by 
diurnal tides, or at least receive the storm and spring tides, are suf- 
ficiently extensive to receive special notice. The exact area of this 
land has never been definitely determined, except in a few States. 
In eleven of the States bordering the Atlantic there are approximately 
2,459 square miles, or more than a million and a half acres. The 
quality of this land varies considerably, and so do the amount and 
value of the hay it produces. The plants composing the herbage, 
however, differ but little botanically. 

Except along the shores of the New England and Middle States, 
this land has received comparatively little attention and been only 
occasionally utilized. In Connecticut, unimproved marsh is valued 
at from |5 to $20 per acre. Diked marsh is much more valuable, 
as it often exceeds in productiveness the adjoining uplands. The 



marshes along the Gulf coast are very extensive, but their hay prod- 
uct is deemed of little or no value. Those along the shores of Texas, 
however, afford in many places extensive and highly prized areas for 
the winter grazing of cattle. On the Pacific coast the marshes are 
insignificant in extent, except in the north, along parts of Oregon and 
Washington, in the region of Puget Sound.- Except when diked, 
practically no care is. given to the marshes beyond keeping open the 
ditches which serve to drain off the tide water. They are fertilized 
entirely by the deposits of the tides, or, if located near the mouths of 
rivers, by such fertilizing elements as may be brought down by the 
streams in season of floods and deposited upon them. 

Pig. 75.— Carrying salt hay to the stack. 

The hay product of the marshes varies from half a ton to a ton or 
more per acre, and is harvested at any time from June to December, 
little attention being paid to the time of blooming of the grasses of 
which it is composed. When the marshes are firm enough to allow 
the use of machinery, the grass is cut with a mower, but in many 
cases this is impracticable and the cutting is done by hand. Occa- 
sionally it is necessary to take advantage of very low tides to carry 
on the operation of harvesting. After being cut the hay is raked, 
and if it can not be dried upon the marsh it is carried to the adjoin- 
ing uplands, and there spread out to cure. More frequently it is 
stacked upon the marsh and hauled away during the winter season 
when the lands are frozen. The hay is taken to the stacks in various 
ways. One method, observed on the coast of Maine, is illustrated 



here (figs. 75-77). These illustrations are from photographs taken on 
the marsh near Pine Point. The hay was cut and then raked up 
into small bundles; two poles were run under these bundles, and 
then the hay was carried to the stack and placed upon it. In this 
particular case the hay was cut upon shares, the harvester being 
allowed two stacks out of three for doing the work. 

This hay, the value of which was given v at 15 per ton, was designed 
in part to be used for fodder and litter, and in part to be sold in Port- 
land for packing glassware and crockery. This latter is a very com- ' 
mon use of salt hay in the vicinity of all the larger seaport towns, 
immense quantities of it being used in New York City for this pur- 
pose ; the fine, and rather stiff, wiry stems of the grasses peculiar to 

Pig. 76.— Making the stack. 

the marshes being particularly well adapted for packing purposes, 
much better than the hay of the uplands. The better quality of marsh 
or salt hay makes very good feed for growing stock, but possesses 
little fattening value. Some of the grasses composing the hay impart 
a disagreeable flavor to the milk or butter of cows feeding upon it. 


The grasses of the seacoast may be divided into three classes? 
Those growing in the sands along the shore, those upon the marshes 
proper, and those upon the sandy and waste lands bordering the 
marshes. To the first class belong beach or marram grass and a 
few others to some extent valuable for holding drifting sands. To 
the third class belong quite a variety of species of value, including 
switch grass (Panicwm virgatum), slender broom sedge (Andropogon 


scoparius), creeping fescue (Festuca rubra), creeping bent (Agrostis 
stolonifera), and sea spear grass (Glyceria maritima). The last three 
occasionally extend onto the marshes proper, and add much to the 
value of the hay product there. 

The so-called salt grasses, which for the most part are limited to 
the marshes themselves, comprise but few species; these are, however, 
very characteristic, and several of them have an exceedingly wide 
range, one being found upon both our Atlantic and Pacific coasts, 
as well as along the Gulf, also along the shores of Europe. The 
several grasses of the marshes do not usually grow intermixed, as do 
the varieties which occur upon our meadows and uplands, but each 
species occupies by itself definite areas of greater or less extent. 

Pig. 77.— Completed stack. 

The most characteristic grasses of the marshes are the Spartinas. 
(see fig. 78). The most common and most conspicuous of these is 
what is known as sedge, creek sedge, or thatch {Spartina striata var. 
glabra). Where this grass grows there is usually a daily flow of tide. 
Along the ditches and creeks this variety grows to the height of 6 or 
8 feet, and its yield in bulk is often very great. It has a narrow, 
spike-like head, and many long and widely spreading shining leaves 
of a deep-green color. This grass remains green after the other veg- 
etation of the marsh has been turned brown by the frosts of autumn. 
It is of little value for fodder, but makes excellent thatch, and is used 
to some extent for mulching and litter. A finer grass of the same 
species, called fine thatch, growing to the height of 1 or 2 feet, is 
found over the marshes away from the ditches, and often forms a 
considerable element of the salt or marsh hay. This grass has, in 



addition to its smaller growth, narrower, less spreading leaves, and is 
of a lighter color, often having a pale, yellowish tint when seen in a 
mass upon the marshes. 

Red salt grass, or fox grass, is another species of Spartina {Spar- 
Una juncea), and is one of the most valuable of this family for hay; in 
fact, is one of the most valuable of the true grasses found upon the 
marshes. It grows to the height of from 1 to 2 feet, has slender, 
somewhat wiry stems and leaves, with a few spreading and reddish 
spikes composing its inflorescence. This is strictly a salt-marsh 
grass, and is found along our 
coasts from Maine to Florida 
and westward to Texas. 
While one of the most valua- 
ble of the hay-producing spe- 
cies of the marshes, it is also 
most valuable for packing 

crockery, glassware, etc. Lo- 
cally this grass is sometimes 

known as "black grass," a 

name which properly belongs 

to another species, mentioned 

Along the Gnlf Coast there 

is another Spartina (Spartina 

junciformis), which is taller 

than fox grass, with longer 

leaves, and the spikes which 

form the inflorescence or head 

are more numerous, shorter, 

and very closely appressed to 

the main stem. The head of 

this is shown to the right in 

fig. 79, while that of fox grass 

is on the left. 
There are two other Spar- 

tinaS Which are Occasionally FiG-re-Salt-marshgraases-theSpartinas. 

found upon the marshes, or at least upon their borders. One of these, 
the fresh- water cord grass {Spartina eynosuroides), has already been 
noticed under " Grasses as sand and soil binders," in the Yearbook for 
1894; the other, the largest of our Spartinas (Spartina poly dachy a), is 
less common than the last, and is confined to the coast, ranging from 
Maine to Alabama. It grows to the height of from 6 to 10 feet, and has 
the inflorescence composed of from 20 to 60 spikes (see centerpiece in 
fig. 78). It forms a conspicuous feature on portions of the Ilacken- 
sack marshes near Jersey City. Associated with this, upon these 


This grows to the 

marshes, is the large reed Phragmites communis 
height, of from 8 to 10 feet, with very leafy stems and plume-like 
inflorescence. It is shown in the center of fig. 79. This grass is 
not confined to the seashore, being widely dispersed throughout the 
temperate regions of the world, chiefly along margins of rivers and 
fresh-water lakes. It has remarkably long and penetrating roots, 
and is especially valuable as a sand and soil binder, as has already 
been noted. A large grass, common also on these marshes and abun- 
dant in the tide waters of the rivers of the Middle States, notably be- 
low Philadelphia, is Indian 
rice {Zizaniaaquatica). This 
is a tall, coarse grass, with 
rather long, broad leaves, 
and the seeds are the favor- 
ite food of the reedbirds. 
When the seeds are ripe, 
these birds resort to the 
marshes in great numbers, 
making them at such times a 
favorite resort of sportsmen. 
Spike grass (Distichlis 
spicata), which also has been 
noted as an excellent sand 
binder, is occasionally found 
upon the marshes proper, 
sometimes occupying areas 
of considerable extent, as on 
the marshes of Cape Cod. It 
is peculiar in having the 
male or staminate flowers 
and the female or pistillate 
flowers on distinct plants; 
and while the male and fe- 
male plants may grow asso- 
ciated together, they are 
sometimes found separate, 
the male plants covering an 
acre or so exclusively, while 
in the vicinity a similar area 
may be found exclusively held by the female . plants. This grass has 
very tough, extensively creeping roots, wiry stems, narrow leaves, and 
a compact head of flowers, and when abundant may be detected at 
a distance by its peculiar yellowish hue. 

Upon the higher portions of the marsh, which usually escape the ordi- 
nary tides, occur several fine grasses of excellent quality. Among these 
are the creeping fescue, sea spear grass, creeping bent or browntop, 

Fig. 79.— Salt-marsh grasses. Sea spear grass, spike 
grass, large reed, couch grass, browntop, creeping 
fescue, black-grass. 


and black grass. The heads of these are shown to the left in fig. 79. 
Browntop, or creeping bent, which is common on the marshes of the 
New England coast and extends southward to New Jersey, is one of 
the best and most tender grasses for fodder which these lands produce. 
It is a variety of the well-known redtop, but the stems are creeping 
at the base and do not rise so high, and the head or panicle is less 
expanded. It has a decided brown tinge, whence the common name 
"browntop." Sea spear grass is found along the northern coasts as 
far south as New Jersey, and is in some places quite abundant, 
occasionally forming an important element in the hay. It is not so 
common, however, as are the grasses already mentioned. The stems 
are tender, the leaves comparatively soft, and the panicle has a few 
erect or spreading branches. By some it is classed with browntop 
and not recognized as distinct from it. 

Creeping or red fescue which is more common on the sandy borders 
and waste grounds near the marshes, not infrequently occurs upon 
them in considerable abundance. This is particularly true of the 
marshes along the Jersey coast, although the grass extends north- 
ward to the shores of Maine. It is a low grass, and, when growing 
alone, forms an excellent turf; mixed with other species, it adds value 
to the hay product. 

Of all the grasses of the marshes there is none more highly prized 
for hay than black grass (Juncus gerardi), which is common on all 
the marshes of the New England coast, extends southward to Florida, 
and is found on the shores of the Pacific in the Northwest. Although 
popularly classed with the grasses, this is not a true grass, but a rush, 
its botanical characters being quite distinct from those of the Gram- 
inese. A couple of heads of this rush are shown in fig. 79, above 
those of the sea spear grass. Its slender erect stems are from 1 to 2 
feet high, are somewhat wiry, yet soft, and apparently palatable to 
stock. It contains less fiber and has a higher nutritive ratio, as 
shown by chemical analyses, than timothy or redtop. 

There, are a few other plants of the salt marshes which enter into 
the composition of salt or marsh hay, but as they belong to other 
families than grasses and are of comparatively little importance, 
rarely forming any appreciable amount of the product, no mention 
will be made of them. 

The question of reclaiming salt marshes by systems of diking for 
the purpose of growing better hay or other farm crops has been fully 
discussed in publications of this Department. 1 Usually a better 
quality of hay can be obtained from the marshes as they exist by 
paying more attention to the time of harvesting. If the hay is desired 
for fodder, the harvesting should be done so far as possible when the 
most valuable grasses are in flower. If it is delayed too long past the 
season of bloom, much of the nutritive quality which these grasses 

i Miscellaneous Special Report No. 7 (1884). 


possessed in their season is lost. It must be remembered that the 
hay obtained from the salt marshes is their natural product— a free 
gift, as it were, of nature — no attempt being made to restore what is 
taken off, nor any effort to increase the growth of the more valuable 
sorts. Perhaps it is questionable whether it would pay to attempt to 
do this by collecting and scattering seeds upon the unimproved marsh 
or to try to destroy or collect the less desirable kinds to make place 
for the better varieties. 


A sample of pure fox grass {Spartina juneea), collected on the 
marshes of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, about the middle of August, 
gave the following analysis: Moisture, 8.55 per cent; ether extract, 4; 
fiber, 26.88; ash, 5.41; nitrogen, 0.87; nitrogen as albuminoids, 5.44. 

A sample of salt hay, composed chiefly of fox grass and spike grass, 
and collected near Atlantic City, N. J., in the latter part of August, 
gave the following composition by chemical analysis : Moisture, 7.44 
percent; ether extract, 4.02; fiber, 27.04; ash, 9.64; nitrogen, 0.77; 
nitrogen as albuminoids, 4.81. 

A sample of salt hay, collected near Pine Point, Me. , in the early 
part of August and made up of a variety of grasses, including black 
grass, fox grass, and browntop, analyzed as follows: Moisture, 8.04 
percent; ether extract, 5.44; fiber, 27.25; ash, 5.13; nitrogen, 0.94; 
nitrogen as albuminoids, 5.88. 

The following table of analyses of the more important grasses here 
mentioned with those of the common meadow grasses inserted for 
comparison is taken from the annual report of the Connecticut Agri- 
cultural Experiment Station for 1889, page 240. The samples ana- 
lyzed were gathered just before or at the time of blooming. 


thy and 







Red salt 



















Per cent. 






Per cent. 






Per cent. 
11 7 

7 2 


49 5 


2 2 







The average of numerous analyses of the ash of some of these 
grasses shows that 5 tons of hay made from them contain as much 
nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash as is contained in a full crop of 
corn, including stover, from an acre of land. The average amount 
of salt contained in a ton of hay, according to the investigation at the 
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, was 54 pounds. 


By B. E. Fbrnow, 
Chief of the Division of Forestry, U. 8. Department of Agriculture. 

That all things in nature are related to each other and interde- 
pendent is a common saying, a fact doubted by nobody, yet often for- 
gotten or neglected in practical life. The reason is partly indifference 
and partly ignorance as to the actual nature of the relationship; 
hence we suffer, deservedly or not. 

The farmer's business, more than any other, perhaps, depends for 
its success upon a true estimate of and careful regard for this inter- 
relation. He adapts his crop to the nature of the soil, the manner 
of its cultivation to the changes of the seasons, and altogether he 
shapes conditions and places them in their proper relations to each 
other and adapts himself to them. 

Soil, moisture, and heat are the three factors which, if properly 
related and utilized, combine to produce his crops. In some direc- 
tions he can control these factors more or less readily; in others they 
are withdrawn from his immediate influence, and he is seemingly 
helpless. He can maintain the fertility of the soil by manuring, by 
proper rotation of crops, and by deep culture; he can remove surplus 
moisture by ditching and draining; he can, by irrigation systems, 
bring water to his crops, and by timely cultivation prevent excessive 
evaporation, thereby rendering more water available to the crop; 
but he can not control the rainfall nor the temperature changes of 
the seasons. Recent attempts to control the rainfall by direct means 
exhibit one of the greatest follies and misconceptions of natural 
forces we have witnessed during this age. Nevertheless, by indirect 
means the farmer has it in his power to exercise much greater control 
over these forces than he has attempted hitherto. He can prevent or 
reduce the unfavorable effects of temperature changes ; he can increase 
the available water supplies, and prevent the evil effects of excessive 
rainfall; he can so manage the waters which fall as to get the most 
benefit from them and avoid the harm which they are able to inflict. 

The following three illustrations, shown as models at the Atlanta 
Exposition, are designed to bring graphically before the reader the 
evil effects of the erosive action of water, the methods by which the 
farmer may recuperate the lost ground, and the way the farm should 
look when forest, pasture, and field are properly located and treated. 












J fl 


3 1 


a ,a 


t- X 


'3 1 






* 4J 


A -4-> 















95 r— 










3 m 

1=3 2 




o til 


2 « 



3 a 




•e M61S 

■S o ^ ^ « s 
?8 n fl ^ (T *» 


5 a is3 

** s o a o 


ep hi 

lg, CO 


d 1 * 1 S 

S a t* 

£ » i ' * f i 

k r* &■ *° 'rt 

§• Sf a o « 

2 fc 5 -3 t> 

=3 -a" 2a 

•a 5 2-S s 
a a . o 






- a a ° 
to g, a " i 

.9 S'.au a 

f brus 
give t 

lying, and 
e surface 
y means o 
g; renew 
hing. and 

& a bS a 

st; c 
f wa 
d di 

fi £ ° S to 
» o .a " B 

-2 ^ § SI! 

fl t. P a 3 

? © h -e a 

> •§ o fe S 

To pre 
sides un 
check th 
tour plo 

green m 



The regulation, proper distribution, and utilization of the rain 
waters in arid as well as in humid regions — water management — is 
to be the great problem of successful agriculture in the future. 

One of the most powerful means for such water management lies in 
the proper distribution and maintenance of forest areas. Nay, we 
can say that the most successful water management is not possible 
without forest management. 


Whether forests increase the amount of precipitation within or near 
their limits is still an open question, although there are indications 
that under certain conditions large, dense forest areas may have such 
an effect. At any rate, the water transpired by the foliage is certain, 
in some degree, to increase the relative humidity near the forest, and 
thereby increase directly or indirectly the water supplies in its neigh- 
borhood. This much we can assert, also, that while extended plains 
and fields, heated by the sun, and hence giving rise to warm currents 
of air, have the tendency to prevent condensation of the passing 
moisture-bearing currents, forest areas, with their cooler, moister air 
strata, do not have such a tendency, and local showers may therefore 
become more frequent in their neighborhood. But, though no increase 
in the amount of rainfall may be secured by forest areas, the availa- 
bility of whatever falls is increased for the locality by a well-kept and 
properly located forest growth. The foliage, twigs, and branches break 
the fall of the raindrops, and so does the litter of the forest floor, hence 
the soil under this cover is not compacted as in the open field, but 
kept loose and granular, so that the water can readily penetrate and 
percolate; the water thus reaches the ground more slowly, dripping 
gradually from the leaves, branches, and trunks, and allowing more 
time for it to sink into the soil. This percolation is also made easier 
by the channels along the many roots. Similarly, on account of the 
open structure of the soil and the slower melting of the snow under 
a forest cover in spring, where it lies a fortnight to a month longer 
than in exposed positions and melts with less waste from evaporation, 
the snow waters more fully penetrate the ground. Again, more snow 
is caught and preserved under the forest cover than on the wind-swept 
fields and prairies. 

All these conditions operate together with the result that larger 
amounts of the water sink into the forest soil and to greater depths 
than in open fields. This moisture is conserved because of the reduced 
evaporation in the cool and still forest air, being protected from the 
two great moisture-dissipating agents, sun and wind. By these con- 
ditions alone the water supplies available in the soil are increased from 
50 to 60 per cent over those available on the open field. Owing to 
these two causes, then — increased percolation and decreased evapora- 
tion — larger amounts of moisture become available to feed the springs 
2 A 95 12 


and subsoil waters, and these become finally available to the farm, if 
the forest is located at a higher elevation than the field. The great 
importance of the subsoil water especially, and the influence of forest 
areas upon it, has so far received too little attention and appreciation. 
It is the subsoil water that is capable of supplying the needed moisture 
in times of drought. 


Another method by which a forest belt becomes a conservator of 
moisture lies in its wind-breaking capacity, by which both velocity and 
temperature of winds are modified and evaporation from the fields 
to the leeward is reduced. 

On the prairie, wind swept every day and every hour, the farmer 
has learned to plant a wind-break around his buildings and orchards, 
often only a single row of trees, and finds even that a desirable shelter, 
tempering both the hot winds of summer and the cold blasts of win- 
ter. The fi«lds he usually leaves unprotected; yet a wind-break 
around his crops to the windward would bring him increased yield, 
and^a timber belt would act still more effectively. Says a farmer 
from Illinois: 

My experience is that now in cold and stormy winters fields protected by tim- 
ber belts yield full crops, while fields not protected yield only one-third of a crop. 
Twenty-five or thirty years ago we never had any wheat killed by winter frost, 
and every year we had a full crop of peaches, which is now very rare. At that 
time we had plenty of timber around our fields and orchards, now cleared away. 

Not only is the temperature of the winds modified by passing over 
and through the shaded and cooler spaces of protecting timber belts 
disposed toward the windward and alternating with the fields, but 
their velocity is broken and moderated, and since with reduced ve- 
locity the evaporative power of the winds is very greatly reduced, 
so more water is left available for crops. Every foot in height of 
a forest growth will protect 1 rod in distance, and several belts in 
succession would probably greatly increase the effective distance. 
By preventing deep freezing of the soil the winter cold is not so 
much prolonged, and the frequent fogs and mists that hover near 
forest areas prevent many frosts. That stock will thrive better where 
it can find protection from the cold blasts of winter and from the 
heat of the sun in summer is a well-established fact. 


On the sandy plains, where the winds are apt to blow the sand, 
shifting it hither and thither, a forest belt to the windward is the 
only means to keep the farm protected. 

In the mountain and hill country the farms are apt to suffer from 
heavy rains washing away the soil. Where the tops and slopes are 
bared of their forest cover, the litter of the forest floor burnt up, 
the soil trampled and compacted by cattle and by the patter of the 


raindrops, the water can not penetrate the soil readily, but is car- 
ried off superficially, especially when the soil is of clay and naturally 
compact. As a result the waters, rushing over the surface down the 
hill, run together in rivulets and streams, and acquire such a force as 
to be able to move loose particles, and even stones; the ground be- 
comes furrowed with gullies and runs; the fertile soil is washed 
away; the fields below are covered with silt; the roads are damaged; 
the water courses tear their banks, and later run dry because the 
waters that should feed them by subterranean channels have been 
carried away in the flood. 

The forest cover on the hilltops and steep hillsides which are not 
fit for cultivation prevents this erosive action of the waters by the 
same influence by which it increases available water supplies. The 
important effects of a forest cover, then, are retention of larger quan- 
tities of water and carrying them off under ground and giving them 
up gradually, thus extending the time of their usefulness and pre- 
venting their destructive action. 

In order to be thoroughly effective, the forest growth must be dense, 
and, especially, the forest floor must not be robbed of its accumula- 
tions of foliage, surface mulch and litter, or its underbrush by fire, 
nor must it be compacted by the trampling of cattle. 

On the gentler slopes, which are devoted to cultivation, methods 
of underdraining, such as horizontal ditches partly filled with stones 
and covered with soil, terracing, and contour plowing, deep cultiva- 
tion, sodding, and proper rotation of crops, must be employed to pre- 
vent damage from surface waters. 


All the benefits derived from the favorable influence of forest belts 
upon water conditions can be had without losing any of the useful 
material that the forest produces. The forest grows to be cut and to 
be utilized; it is a crop to be harvested. It is a crop which, if prop- 
erly managed, does not need to be replanted; it reproduces itself. 

When once established, the ax, if properly guided by skillful hands, 
is the only tool necessary to cultivate it and to reproduce it. There 
is no necessity of planting unless the wood lot has been mismanaged. 

The wood lot, then, if properly managed, is not only the guardian 
of the farm, but it is the savings bank from which fair interest can 
be annually drawn, utilizing for the purpose the poorest part of the 
farm. Nor does the wood lot require much attention ; it is to the farm 
what the workbasket is to the good housewife — a means with which to 
improve the odds and ends of time, especially during the winter, 
when other farm business is at a standstill. 

It may be added that the material which the farmer can secure 
from the wood lot, besides the other advantages recited above, is of 
far greater importance and value than is generally admitted. 


On a well-regulated farm of 160 acres, with its 4 miles and more of 
fencing, and with its wood fires in range and stove, at least 25 cords 
of wood are required annually, besides material for repair of build- 
ings, or altogether the annual product of probably 40 to 50 acres of 
well-stocked forest is needed. The product may represent, according 
to location, an actual stumpage value of from $1 to $3 per acre, a sure 
crop coming every year without regard to weather, without trouble 
and work, and raised on the poorest part of the farm. It is question- 
able whether such net results could be secured with the same steadi- 
ness from any other crop. Nor must it be overlooked that the work 
in harvesting this crop falls into a time when little else could be done. 

Wire fences and coal fires are, no doubt, good substitutes, but they 
require ready cash, and often the distance of haulage makes them 
rather expensive. Presently, too, when the virgin woods have been 
still further culled of their valuable stores, the farmer who has pre- 
served a sufficiently large and well-tended wood lot will be able to 
derive a comfortable money revenue from it by supplying the market 
with wood of various kinds and sizes. The German State forests, with 
their complicated administrations, which eat up 40 per cent of the 
gross income, yield, with prices of wood about the same as in our 
country, an annual net revenue of from $1 to 14 and more per acre. 
Why should not the farmer, who does not pay salaries to managers, 
overseers, and forest guards, make at least as much money out of this 
crop, when he is within reach of a market ? 

In regard to the manner in which, the farmer should manage his 
wood lot, the Yearbook of 1894 gives a fuller account. 

With varying conditions the methods would of course vary. In 
a general way, if he happens to have a virgin growth of mixed woods, 
the first care would be to improve the composition of the wood lot by 
cutting out the less desirable kinds, the weeds of tree growth, and the 
poorly grown trees which impede the development of more deserving 

The wood thus cut he will use as firewood or in any other way,' and 
even if he could not use it at all, and had to burn it up, the operation 
would pay indirectly by leaving him a better crop. Then he may use 
the rest of the crop, gradually cutting the trees as needed, but he 
must take care that the openings are not made too large, so that they 
can readily fill out with young growth from the seed of the remain- 
ing trees, and he must also pay attention to the young aftergrowth, 
giving it light as needed. Thus without ever resorting to planting he 
may harvest the old timber and have a new crop taking its place and 
perpetuate the wood lot without in any way curtailing his use of 
the same. 


By Charles A. Keffer, 
Assistant Chief, Division of j> orestry, U. 8. Department of Agriculture. 


The plains of the West comprise a strip of country of varying width 
extending from North Dakota to Texas, all portions of which have the 
same general characteristic features. In the eastern part of this 
region the country is like the adjacent prairies of Minnesota, Iowa, 
and Missouri — rolling lands, with numerous streams bordered by 
woods, from which the surface rises to the open country. In the 
Dakotas and northern Nebraska these slopes are usually gentle, but 
in Kansas the surface of the land is frequently broken by outcrops of 
the underlying limestone. Farther south the woods increase in 
extent. Through the central area of the Western States (the Dako- 
tas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and- Texas) the tree growth is 
greatly reduced in extent and variety, the country is less rolling, and 
the altitude is higher, these conditions increasing in intensity west- 
ward until in eastern Colorado there is a vast plain rising by imper- 
ceptible degrees toward the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. 

Aside from these generally prevailing conditions, the State of 
Nebraska is crossed east and west by a broad belt of sand hills, which 
make it necessary to discuss that region separately from the remain- 
ing country under consideration. A somewhat similar area, though 
very much smaller in extent and less pronounced in character, lies 
between the Arkansas and Smoky Hill rivers in Kansas. 

The soil conditions over this vast area are necessarily variable. 
The Dakotas and Nebraska outside of the sand hills have what West- 
ern people recognize as the typical prairie soil — a deep clay loam, 
underlaid with a subsoil of clay of varying degrees of stiffness. 
Oftentimes on adjoining farms this subsoil presents widely varying 
characteristics; the one being almost impenetrable to moisture (the 
hardpan of the Northwest), and the other having a considerable 
admixture of sand and readily penetrated by moisture. 

The surface soil is usually black in color, and, except in cases of 
extreme drought, can be kept in good condition, so far as moisture is 
concerned, by very deep plowing and frequent shallow cultivation. 
In Kansas and the southern country the same loamy surface soil is 
found, but the subsoil is frequently of a more calcareous nature, being 



underlaid with limestone not far from the surface. In Colorado the 
surface soil is brown rather than black, and has the characteristic 
clay subsoil of the more northern region. 

The vegetation throughout consists of grasses, composites, and 
legumes, with a comparatively small number of other species, almost 
exclusively herbaceous, except in the immediate vicinity of streams. 
The only common woody plants on the uplands are low-growing roses, 
cherry, and false indigo. The soil cover is less luxuriant, generally 
speaking, from east to west and from the lower to the higher lati- 
tudes, being of course largely governed by the presence of moisture 
in soil and atmosphere. In the moister regions the taller forms of 
Andropogon and Calamagrostis are the characteristic grasses, while 
in the drier regions the Stipas, Boutelouas, and Buchloes are domi- 
nant. The annual prairie fires have prevented as large accumula- 
tions of humus as the grass crop would otherwise have made, but the 
soil is nowhere lacking in an abundant supply of food elements for 

In all the Northern prairies there is an almost insensible passage from 
surface to subsoil, the change in color and grain being a very gradual 
one, evidently dependent on the amount of humus. It not infre- 
quently happens that a thin stratum of coarse gravel or gravelly clay 
makes a line of demarcation between surface and subsoil. Throughout 
the plains, too, it is common to find white spots, calcareous in nature, 
in the clay subsoil from 3 to 10 feet below the surface. By many per- 
sons in the West these chalky deposits are wrongly considered an 
indication of hardpan,, impenetrable to moisture. There is also a 
greater or less admixture of fine sand in the clay subsoil; in most 
cases this sand is sufficient to render the subsoil porous enough to 
permit the free passage of moisture. This is proven by the almost 
universal effect of shallow culture on deep-plowed prairie soils. The 
land so tilled is fresh below the dust blanket even in long periods 
of drought, while adjacent uncultivated land shows wide cracks on 
the surface of the baked earth. There are undoubtedly places, local 
in character and of limited extent, in which the subsoil is too stiff to 
permit a good growth of forest trees, but these can be regarded as 
exceptions rather than the rule, which is that the soils of the plains 
are of sufficient depth and porosity to permit the growth of trees. 
Whatever difficulties are met, then, must be climatic in their nature. 

The mean annual rainfall gradually decreases from the eastern 
boundaries of Kansas and Dakota toward the mountains. The great- 
est rainfall occurs in the southeastern part of the region, and a grad- 
ual decrease is noticeable both northward and westward, being greater 
in the latter direction. On the unbroken prairies the character of 
the soil and vegetation has much to do with the moisture conditions. " 
There is usually a good fall of rain during April, May, and June; then 
there is apt to be very little until the autumn months. During this 


long interval the only protection to the soil is the herbaceous vegeta- 
tion that covers it, and this is soon turned brown and sere by the 
excessive heat and winds. The sun, beating down on the scarcely 
shaded earth, tends to compact and bake it until it more nearly 
resembles sun-dried brick than a soil in which plants can grow. This 
condition varies in proportion to the amount of sand in the soil, and 
as the greater part of the plains is covered with a clay loam, they dry 
out badly and have become very compact during the centuries that 
they have been exposed to existing conditions. "When rains fall, the 
water is not absorbed by such soils to as great a degree as in the 
prairie loams of Iowa and Missouri. It penetrates a few inches, only 
to be soon evaporated. Under cultivation, however, a decided change 
in the action of Western soils is noticeable. This was impressed upon 
the writer during a visit to the Kansas State forest station at Ogal- 
lah (99° 46' W., 39° 1ST.), in October, 1894. In walking from the rail- 
road station to the forest plats, a distance of a mile, it was observed 
that the ground was cracked by the excessive drought, and it could 
scarcely have been harder; but in the cultivated soil of the nurseries 
and tree plats fresh soil was found a few inches below the surface. 

The great lesson to be learned from these general observations is 
that deep plowing and frequent cultivation of the soil until it is 
shaded by the tree growth is one of the requisites for successful 
forest planting in these regions. 


Without entering into a discussion of the causes of the failure 
which, in the majority of cases, has attended the efforts of tree 
planters in the States west of the Missouri River, it is intended to 
give practical suggestions on methods of planting and culture, with 
information regarding varieties of trees and the aftertreatment of 
cultivated woodlands. 

The region under consideration is so vast in extent that it will be 
impossible, in a limited space, to give specific directions for planting 
or care under all the varying conditions of soil, altitude, moisture, 
wind, and the many minor items constituting what is known to the 
forester as locality. 

Being intended primarily for farmers, the subject is treated from 
the standpoint of the agriculturist rather than that of the forester. 
The farmer, devoting comparatively small areas to the cultivation of 
trees, can regard the individual tree as his unit; the forester, having 
to do with thousands of acres, must look to the aggregate growth. 
Nevertheless, if the farmer would have timber from his grove that 
will best meet his varied needs, he must follow the same principles of 
selection, planting, and aftertreatment that govern the operations of 
the forester in his larger field. 

In the Western States forest-tree planters have two special objects 


in view — protection from winds and a supply of wood. Incidentally 
the plantations may be made to save much moisture to the tillable 
area of the farm ; they also furnish a most important means of reliev- 
ing the otherwise monotonous landscape, making the country more 
attractive. The great benefit derived from grove planting in the 
West, outweighing all other considerations, is protection from wind. 
Hence the groves should be so placed as to afford the most complete 
shelter to the farm buildings, feeding lots, garden, and orchard. 

A careful examination of a large portion of the region under dis- 
cussion emphasizes a belief, founded on several years' experience in 
tree culture in South Dakota, that over the greater part of the vast 
area trees can be successfully grown without irrigation. The degree 
of success will be greatest on the eastern borders of the plains, and 
will decrease westward, following the general reduction in the mois- 
ture supply of soil and atmosphere. So, also, trees will be found to 
grow best on the lower lands near the streams, but as the country is 
settled and the land is cultivated the line of successful tree growth 
will ascend to the higher altitudes in every part of the plain region, 
and ultimately the entire area can be afforested. 


The work of tree planting on the plains heretofore has been largely 
tentative. In the beginning there was no experience that could be 
used as a basis in the West, because deductions from plantings made 
under other climatic conditions proved almost valueless. For the 
first time in the history of the world, a people attempted to transform, 
almost in a decade, a land that had long been considered an uninhab- 
itable desert. The paramount condition that led to a choice of vari- 
eties of trees for planting was availability. There was no question 
on the part of the settler of the necessity for wind-breaks. The need 
was so urgent that he sought the quickest solution of it and took from 
the sparse woodlands of the nearest streams the species that seemed 
to grow most rapidly. Hence throughout the West the cottonwood 
is the most generally planted tree, and it has served a purpose which 
probably no other species could have so well filled. It has made a 
protecting wind-break around thousands of homesteads. Next to 
the cottonwood the willow, box elder, and maple have been most 
extensively planted, these being the most rapid growing, during 
youth, of the native species. Throughout the West, however, hun- 
dreds of farmers have secured seed of more valuable species and 
have attempted their cultivation, with varying degrees of success. 
Throughout the eastern parts of Kansas and Nebraska thrifty groves 
of black walnut and green ash can be found, and there are many 
plantings that contain a variety of hard woods, including, in addition 
to those already named, the black and honey locusts, elm, cherry, 
and catalpa. 


To a much more limited extent pines and spruces have been planted, 
but a lack of knowledge regarding their needs has resulted at best in 
only a moderate degree of success. 

In these pioneer plantings, as in the wild state, trees have grown 
best nearest the eastern border of the plains, the artificial groves 
decreasing in number and in size to the westward. 

The species most easily secured, because native along streams iu 
the plains, are Cottonwood, box elder, green ash, silver and red 
maple, willow, and hackberry. Of these the cottonwood and willow 
may be regarded as the most available, because they grow readily 
from cuttings, as well as from seeds. The silver and red maples are 
both of common occurrence in Kansas, but northward the red maple 
becomes scarcer, and is not found in the Dakotas. The maples have 
a less general distribution, but they grow so readily and strongly from 
the seed that they have been largely planted. The ash and elm, 
being slower growers, have not commended themselves to Western 
planters as their merits deserve, but are now being more extensively 

In the eastern plain region, especially southward, several species of 
oak are native, the most useful being the bur or mossy cup ( Quercus 
macrocarpa), also the black wild cherry, honey locust, sugar maple 
(rare), red elm, sycamore, walnut, several hickories, red cedar, bass- 
wood, and buckeye. It is thus seen that a goodly number of tree 
species are indigenous, and seeds of all of them can be obtained in 
greater or less quantity without much difficulty, the most widely dis- 
tributed being those first named. 

It may happen, however, through the instrumentality of the nurs- 
eryman and seedman, that species not native are more available than 
indigenous trees. The hardy catalpa is particularly available for 
the southeast plain region, because the seed is cheap and the tree can 
be grown with ease. For the same reasons the black locust is spe- 
cially adapted to Kansas, southern Nebraska, and Colorado. Among 
conifers the Scotch and Austrian pines, red cedar, and white spruce 
are yearly becoming cheaper, and hence more available to the West- 
ern planter. 

In addition to these larger trees, smaller woody growths, such as 
wild plum, choke cherry, and sand cherry, can be secured over the 
greater part of the West, and may fill an important purpose in the 


The adaptability of a species is its power to adjust itself to the con- 
ditions in which it is placed. A great many failures have been made 
in tree growing by mistaking availability for adaptability. It does 
not follow because the cottonwood is growing along the Arkansas, 
Republican, Platte, and Niobrara rivers all the way across the plains 
that it will succeed equally well on the intervening highlands. It 


seems able to stand almost any degree of atmospheric dryness, pro- 
vided it lias a plentiful supply of moisture at the root. This might 
appear at first thought to be equally true of all arborescent species, 
but the fact that so few varieties of trees are found between the one 
hundredth and one hundred and fifth meridians indicates the contrary. 
The Arkansas is a broad river throughout the driest seasons, but in 
western Kansas and eastern Colorado almost the only species that 
grows on its banks is the cottonwood. This tree is much shorter 
lived on high land, especially where there is a stiff subsoil, and does 
not live as long when planted closely as when used for street plant- 
ing — a single row with wide intervening spaces; even where it grows 
naturally, along rivers, it soon dies out. 

The black walnut has been more extensively planted than any of 
the slow-growing trees, with the possible exception of green ash, and 
here again no attention has been paid to adaptability. The black 
walnut succeeds best in the deep, fresh soils of bottom and second- 
bench lands, and in such localities there are many successful young 
groves in Kansas and Nebraska; on the drier highlands, however, it 
is much slower in growth and often fails entirely. 

The silver maple has been planted extensively throughout South 
Dakota, where it almost invariably kills back during its early years, 
resulting in a coppice form that makes an acceptable soil cover but a 
poor tree. 

The box elder succeeds much better* in the Dakotas than in Kansas, 
where it dies in high ground after a few years, and as a nurse tree is 
never as satisfactory as it is farther north. On the other hand, the 
Russian mulberry attains a good post size in the valley of the Ar- 
kansas — a thing incredible to those who have only seen the species as 
grown farther north, where it becomes a spreading shrub. 

The hardy catalpa ( Catalpa speciosa) is one of the most rapid-growing 
trees in the southeastern part of the plains, and thrives as far north 
as Omaha, Nebr., but it kills back in central Nebraska, even at the 
south line of the State, and will not grow at all in South Dakota. The . 
black locust flourishes over a much greater western range, growing 
well under irrigation at Denver, Colo., and in the dry plains of west- 
ern Kansas, but it is not successful north of the Nebraska sand hills. 

It is seen from these examples that not only considerations of 
moisture but of temperature also must be regarded in determining 
the adaptability of a species to any locality. 

Generally speaking, none of our trees succeed as well in the high- 
lands of the "West as in the valleys, and the reason is evident. Aside 
from the great difference in soil moisture, the lower lands have, as a 
rule, a much deeper surface soil, and the atmosphere of the valleys is 
measurably protected from wind action, so that the evaporation is 
relatively less — a point second only in importance to the moisture 
supply. While it is true that few. if any, species grow as rapidly on 


the higher land, some are comparatively successful there. On deep 
soils the black wild cherry, catalpa, white elm, honey locust, black 
locust, hackberry, bur oak r box elder, bull pine, Scotch pine, Austrian 
pine, and red cedar do well in places where the temperature is suita- 
ble. Perhaps no tree in the above list is more widely adapted to 
varying conditions than the Scotch pine, which seems to be equally 
at home in the dry prairies of eastern Dakota and northern Nebraska 
(longitude 100° W.), the clay soils along the Missouri, the limy loams 
of the Kansas River bluffs, and the sandy loams of the Arkansas 


Pure planting is a term applied to plantations of a single species. 
In nature this condition is seldom found in the West, except along 
rivers where a grove of willows or cottonwoods has sprung up, or in 
the mountains where the pines or the spruces often form by them- 
selves dense forests. 

Pure planting is not to be recommended on the plains for several 
reasons. In the first place, the trees, being all of the same species, 
have the same form and rate of growth. If any accident or insect 
injure them on a considerable area, the soil is at once exposed, and a 
weed growth quickly takes possession of it. 

In the second place, all the trees demand an equal amount of light, 
and this causes a crowding that will result in the premature death of 
many. If the kind selected be a sparsely shading sort, such as cot- 
tonwqod and the locusts, a rank growth of weeds and prairie grasses 
will spring up and rob them of soil moisture, thus checking their 

The various uses of the farm demand a variety of timbers. A pure 
grove, even though successful, will not be as valuable to the farmer 
as a mixed grove. 


In planting timber trees, whether the area to be covered is 5 or 5,000 
acres, certain principles should govern the work. It is desirable that 
the kinds selected be adapted to a variety of uses, that the plantation 
make a good wind-break, and that the trees be brought to maturity 
at the least possible cost to the planter. 

Having determined what varieties are suitable to the locality, the 
mixing of- two or more kinds depends (1) on their relative capacity 
for preserving or increasing favorable soil conditions, (2) on their 
relative dependence on light and shade for development, and (3) on 
their relative height growth. 

Based on these principles, the following rules have been formulated : 

(1) The dominant species, that is, the one occupying the most of the 
ground, must be one that improves the soil; in the West a shade- 
making kind. 


(2) Shade-enduring (densely foliaged) trees may be mixed together 
when the slower growing can be protected from the overtopping of 
the more rapid growing, either by planting the slower growing first 
or in greater numbers or larger specimens, or by cutting back the 
quicker growing ones. 

(3) Shade-enduring kinds may be mixed with light-needing kinds 
when the latter are either quicker growing, planted in advance of the 
former, or larger specimens. 

(4) Thin-foliaged kinds should not be planted in mixtures by them- 
selves except in very favorable locations, such as river bottoms, marshy 
soils, etc., where no exhaustion of soil humidity need be feared, or on 
very meager, dry soils, where nothing else will grow. 

(5) The introduction of individual light-foliaged trees is preferable 
to placing them together in groups unless special soil conditions make 
the occupation by one suitable kind more desirable. 1 

There are difficulties in the application of these rules to Western 
planting that will at once suggest themselves. The first is that among 
the species available to the farmer very few are shade enduring, and 
a second is that as the trees grow older they change somewhat in 
reference to their shade endurance. The black wild cherry, for 
instance, endures much more shade during its youth than after it has 
attained its principal height growth. It has here been included 
among the shade-enduring kinds with this understanding. It should 
also be remembered that moist soils increase the shade endurance of 
all species, and vice versa. 


Considering first the species that are most available in the West, a 
series arranged with reference to shade endurance would read about as 
follows: (1) Box elder, Russian mulberry (red cedar, Douglas spruce, 
white spruce, Norway spruce); (2) black wild cherry; (3) hackberry; 
(4) silver maple; (5) bur oak; (6) green ash, catalpa (Scotch pine, bull 
pine); (7) black walnut; (8) honey locust; (9) black locust (larch), and 
(10) cottonwood. 

The best shade-enduring variety probably is the sugar maple. In 
the Dakotas and northern Nebraska the box elder answers tolerably 
well during youth, and is unquestionably the most available species 
for this purpose. Farther south the Russian mulberry may be sub- 
stituted. „ 

The relative shade endurance of the conifers is indicated in paren- 
theses in the above list, for the reason that the high prices charged for 
such trees have thus far prevented their extensive use in Western tree 
planting. For the same reason they have been given a much less 
important place in the planting schemes which follow than would 
otherwise have been warranted. 

1 See annual report of Division of Forestry, 1886. 


At least two-thirds of the plantation should be of dense-shading 
trees, among which the light-demanding species should be planted 
singly, so that each tree will be surrounded by shade-enduring kinds. 
To insure the greatest degree of success three-fourths or more of the 
grove should be shade-enduring kinds. 

The special importance of completely shading the ground as soon 
as possible in Western tree culture is the necessity of preventing 
grass growth. The prairie grasses are exceptionally vigorous growers, 
and are all light-demanding species. Once established, it is difficult 
to eradicate them, and they seriously check the tree growth. Thou- 
sands of promising Cottonwood groves have been ruined by permit- 
ting the grasses to get a foothold in the plantation. None of the 
light-foliaged trees make sufficient shade to prevent grass growth; so 
that the planter must either continue cultivation, which is too expen- 
sive a process, or use dense-shading trees for the major part of his 
grove. Indeed, the subject of light requirement is of the first impor- 
tance in forest tree-culture anywhere. Heretofore it has received 
practically no attention in the West, and the above placing of species 
may have to be changed with more extended observation and experi- 
ment under Western conditions. 


The varieties to be mixed should be chosen not only with reference 
to their light requirement, but also to the period of their development 
or rapidity of growth. To the Western planter shelter from winds is 
the most important object to be attained, and in order to accomplish 
this at the earliest possible time the majority of the trees should be 
quick growers. It seldom happens that rapid growers yield a timber 
valuable for economic uses, the catalpa and black locust being notable 
exceptions, and they can only be grown in a restricted territory. The 
cottonwood grows faster than any other Western species, but it is 
valueless for home use except as fuel, and it is of the poorest quality 
even for that purpose. The box elder and soft maple are but little 
better. These are trees of the earliest maturity, and the two last named 
are among the most available shading kinds. Cottonwood is almost 
useless in mixed planting. The plantation, then, should be made up 
largely of these quickly maturing species, even though they are of but 
slight economic value. Distributed singly among them should be trees 
of a slower rate of development, chosen also with a view to their light 
requirement. If one-half or two-thirds of the plantation be of box 
elder, for instance, at least half of the remaining trees should be of a 
shade-enduring kind, that will continue to keep down weed growth by 
keeping the soil shaded after the box elders are thinned out. The 
remainder of the species may be of high economic value and slower 
maturity, such as bur oak, black walnut, and ash, or they may be 
rapid growers which demand a great deal of light, such as black locust 
and catalpa, or they may be pines, or all these may be introduced, but 


under all circumstances their light requirements should be kept in 
mind, and they should be so distributed as to afford to each the best 
opportunity for development. 

It will be seen from what has been said that the rapid-growing 
species, like box elder, Russian mulberry (in the more southern regions 
only), and silver maple, while affording protection from winds almost 
as soon as cottonwood, are serving as nurse trees to the more slowly 
maturing kinds which grow among them, compelling them to reach 
up for light, and thus forcing them to grow tall and straight and to 
store the most of their wood in the shaft and form the least possible 
number of branches during their youth. In this way the value of the 
more permanent trees is greatly increased, for the trunks at maturity 
are long, straight, and free from knots, thus making the best possible 

According to their rate of development, our more available species 
for "Western planting may be arranged as follows, the most rapid 
growing being named first : Cottonwood, box elder, silver maple, black 
locust, catalpa, European larch, honey locust, white elm, hackberry, 
Scotch pine or bull pine, black wild cherry, black walnut, white spruce 
or Douglas spruce, red cedar, green ash, bur oak. 


One of the principal causes of failure in Western tree planting has 
been wide spacing. It is not uncommon to see trees set in rows 12 
and even 16 feet apart, 1 to 2 feet apart in the rows. This wide 
spacing of rows requires long-continued cultivation, otherwise the 
trees are soon given over to the grasses, which rob them of soil mois- 
ture and effectively check their development. Or, what is even worse, 
the forest trees are set as in an orchard, 9 or 12 feet apart both ways. 
This planting permits a great development of lateral branches, result- 
ing in very short trunks, which, as the trees grow older, form bad 
forks near the. ground. This plan also demands long-continued culti- 
vation in order to keep out weeds and grasses. 

Aside from the more complete protection afforded, close planting is 
the most economical method of cultivation in the West. It is true 
that if trees are purchased, the first cost of material is greater, as 
also the cost of planting, but these items are more than balanced by 
the saving in cultivation and the assurance of success. 

The Western planter is measurably restricted by the number of 
species of trees that will succeed in his locality; but while the climate 
limits the number of species that he can grow, there is yet a wider 
range of choice than has thus far been exercised. As already indi- 
cated, the major part of a Western plantation should be of a dense- 
f oliaged, quick-growing species ; and in the choice of this variety the 
planter is limited to one or two kinds. For the remaining trees of 
his plantation, however, there is quite a wide range of choice, and the 


plantation should be sufficiently varied in its forms to meet all possi- 
ble needs. With careful management, a plat of 20 acres of forest 
trees, well selected and properly grown, can be depended upon to 
supply the ordinary Western farm with the greater part of the timber 
needed upon it, though it could not be expected to supply fuel. If 
the farmer desires to grow post timber, black locust is one of the best 
trees he can plant; but this tree does not succeed north of Nebraska. 
It is a light-demanding species, and is subject to borers, and hence 
should be distributed singly among shade-making kinds. If wood 
for machine repairs is wanted, green ash is best adapted to the pur- 
pose. It can be raised throughout the West, but is also a light- 
demanding species and must be grown among shade-making kinds. 
These illustrations will show the importance of including in all planta- 
tions a number of species of timber trees having varied characteristics. 


The best distance at which to plant is 3 by 3 feet, and next to this 
is 4 by 4 feet, the latter spacing being the widest that should be used 
on the plains. 

At 3 by 3 feet, 4,840 trees will be required for an acre; at 3| by 3^ 
feet, 3,781, and at 4 by 4 feet, 2,722. In the southern part of the 
plain region, Russian mulberry, catalpa, black wild cherry, black 
locust, green ash, bur oak, white elm, black walnut, and Scotch pine 
could be used in mixture according to the following diagram : 

M A M L M A M L M A M L 
































































































M, Russian mulberry; C, Hardy catalpa; A, Green ash; E, White elm; L, Black 
locust; O, Bur oak; W, Black walnut; P, Scotch pine; BC, Black wild cherry. 

The number of trees of each species required for an acre would be 
as follows: 

Mulberry 1,815 

Catalpa 1,210 

Black wild cherry 605 

Black locust 605 

Green ash ... 151 

White elm 152 

Bur oak 75 

Black walnut 75 

Scotch pine 152 

Total 4,840 


An inspection of the above diagram will show that the mulberry, 
eatalpa, and black wild cherry, shade-enduring trees, constitute three- 
fourths of the planting, leaving the remaining fourth to light-demand- 
ing species; black locust, a rapid-growing tree and one of our very 
best post timbers, makes up one-half of the light-demanding species; 
green ash, white elm, and Scotch pine (for which ash could be sub- 
stituted) each constitute one-fourth of the remainder, while bur oak 
and black walnut, at intervals of 12 by 24 feet, fill the remaining 
places. The mixture has been arranged with reference to the light 
requirement of the trees. Catalpa and mulberry alternate with each 
other in the rows, so that at the thinning time, if it is desirable to 
remove either, the other will protect the soil. The catalpa pushes 
late in spring and its leaves drop with the first frost, so that alone 
it is not a good nurse tree; but mixed with mulberry, which has an 
earlier and more persistent foliage, the defect is measurably over- 
come. The catalpa, grown close, will make poles in five to ten years, 
so that if at the first thinning this variety is removed it will give an 
abundance of room for the other trees — admitting light not only to 
its own rows, but to the more permanent trees adjoining it — and will 
yield a good return in sticks large enough for pole fencing, stakes, or 
stove wood. 

"When the catalpa is removed, the black wild cherry and mulberry 
will soon close the breaks made in the leaf canopy, and thus weed 
growth will be prevented. At the next thinning, in from fifteen to 
twenty years, the mulberry will be large enough to make from two to 
four posts per tree, or, if deemed more desirable, a part of the black 
locusts will be found large enough for use. By this time the cherries 
should average 30 to 35 feet in height, and it may be necessary to aid 
the oaks, either by removing the adjacent mulberries and cherries, or 
by cutting their lateral branches. All the trees will have been forced 
to grow tall and straight. 

For the more northern part of the plains the number of species 
would have to be reduced or substitutions made, as experiments seem 
to indicate that the shade-enduring species are box elder and black 
wild cherry, and the light-demanding forms that have proved success- 
ful are white elm, green ash, bur oak, cottonwood, Scotch pine, and 
Austrian pine. Red cedar and the spruces are shade enduring, and 
the bull pine (Pinus ponderosa) Of the Black Hills will doubtless be a 
useful addition to this list. 

The white spruce or Douglas spruce could be substituted for catalpa, 
box elder for mulberry, and white elm for locust, increasing the num- 
ber of green ash to 302 in place of the white elm indicated in th& 
mixture; or, if only broad-leafed trees are to be used, the following 
mixture could be made: 



B, Box elder; A, Green ash; C, Black wild cherry; E, White elm; O, Bur oak; 
L, Yellow birch. 

On the basis of this diagram it would require per acre, planted 3 by 
3 feet, the following number of trees of each species: 

Boxelder,. 3,630 White elm 201 

Black wild cherry 607 Yellow birch 151 

Greenash... _ __ 201 Buroak._ _ 50 

In this mixture, box elder is used as the early maturing, dense- 
foliaged form, and constitutes three-fourths of the trees. They are 
so placed that the alternate trees in the solid box-elder rows may be 
removed, and the more permanent trees will still be surrounded by 
good shade-making kinds. Should all the nurse trees be removed, 
the black wild cherry, constituting one-half of the remainder of the 
plat, would become the dominant tree, and, being a shade-enduring 
kind, would act relatively the same as box elder. The cherries are so 
placed that if all the box elders were cut out, the lighter-foliaged 
forms would each be surrounded by cherries. The box elder will not 
make as useful a timber for any purpose as catalpa, but the latter 
species is not hardy north of central Nebraska, and grows poorly 
west of the ninety-ninth meridian in Kansas, so that it is only avail- 
able in a comparatively small part of the West. The cottonwood is 
not recommended, as other and better trees can be grown in its 
place. The box elder grows rapidly only during its youth, and within 
ten or fifteen years the remaining trees may be expected to overtop 
it; but where fuel is as scarce as on the plains, even the first box- 
elder thinnings, at seven to ten years from planting, will be found 
very useful for firewood- 

The black locust can be grown throughout Nebraska south of the 
sand hills, but it does not succeed in the northern part of the plain 
region, nor does the honey locust, though this will stand in the south- 
ern counties of South Dakota. The mixtures here suggested are given 
not as ideal ones, but to illustrate the practice. The important point 
to be observed is the necessity of having a good shade maker as the 
dominant tree in the beginning, and providing for a suitable distri- 
bution of the light-demanding species among the permanent shade- 
enduring kinds. 
A 95 13 


The climatic conditions throughout the States between the Missis- 
sippi River and the Rocky Mountains seem to indicate that the cone- 
bearing trees are better adapted to the plains than are the broad-leafed 
species. The excessive evaporation of the plains, due in a great 
measure to the constant winds, is much more trying to deciduous 
trees than to evergreens, the foliage of which is especially designed 
to withstand it. 

Experiments have been conducted in the cultivation of conifers in 
the West, but they have been almost invariably attended with only a 
small measure of success, or have failed entirely. The few exceptions, 
however, prove that it is possible to make certain of the conifers live, 
and that, once established, they thrive where broad-leafed trees fail 
(as in the sand hills). 

It should be stated that as a people we are unfamiliar with the 
handling of young cone-bearing trees, but having had large experi- 
ence, one way and another, with deciduous forms, we have a much 
better understanding of the requirements of the latter. Undoubtedly 
most of the failures with conifers in the West have resulted from 
ignorance on the part of the shipper, the buyer, and the planter. In 
digging deciduous trees but little care is necessary to protect the 
roots. Indeed, the writer has received a lot of oak trees the roots of 
which looked so dry that they were planted without any expectation 
of their growing, but only a small per cent of them failed; and others, 
notably the green ash and catalpa, will stand a great deal of abuse of 
this sort. The conifers, however, have a very different root system, 
and require different handling. Take almost all of the broad-leafed 
trees that thrive in the West, and in their seedling stage they have 
either a heavy taproot, like the catalpa, walnut, and ash, or several 
equally strong main roots springing from near the collar, which have 
but few rootlets. The conifers, on the other hand, have a mass of 
fine rootlets by the time they have attained a size for transplanting, 
and even were other things equal, these very fine roots would dry out 
much quicker than the larger roots of the broad-leafed trees. 

The fact that the roots of young cone-bearing trees dry out quicker, 
with greater resulting injury, than those of other tree forms can 
easily be established by exposing elm or cherry and larch seedlings 
for a few hours and then planting them. The former will be none 
the worse for its sun bath, but the latter will fail to grow. The 
roots of cone-bearing plants should not be exposed to the drying 
action of the air from the time they are taken up until they are trans- 
planted. As the young conifers are dug their roots should be plunged 
in water or puddled in mud. In the storehouse, during the interval 
of packing, they should be protected by damp moss. In transit they 
should be so packed as to avoid heating on the one hand, and drying 
out on the other. When received by the planter, they should at once 
be separated, puddled, or dipped in water, and carefully "heeled in" 


(covered temporarily with moist earth) in a shaded location until they 
can be set. When the planting season arrives, a moist, cloudy day 
should, if possible, be chosen for the work, and the young trees should 
be taken from their temporary resting place and carried in vessels of 
water to the field. 

In planting, none but fine moist soil should come in contact with 
their roots, and this should be tramped very firm, so that the fine soil 
will be brought into close contact with the rootlets. Then if an inch 
of loose soil be spread over the top, making the surface level and pre- 
venting drying out, the tree will have been well planted. The cone- 
bearing trees, as a rule, do not start so readily as the broad-leafed 
species. They have as great, if not a greater, supply of stored food, 
and push their buds vigorously, but the roots do not take hold of the 
soil so readily, new roots are not formed, and as a result the trees 
frequently perish after a seemingly excellent start has been made. 

The conifers are of very great utility in Western planting. Being 
evergreen, they make far better wind-breaks than do the deciduous 
trees, and herein is their peculiar value. Tree planting on the plains, 
at least under existing conditions, can hardly be expected to assume 
the proportions of forest planting, and hence the economic value of 
the wood of pines and spruces is of minor importance. They do not 
furnish as strong lumber as do the ash and oak, and are not so dura- 
ble in contact with the soil as black locust and catalpa; hence for 
the ordinary farm uses the timber of the conifers is not especially 


An experiment in the planting of forest trees in the sand hills of 
Nebraska has been described in the annual reports of the Division 
of Forestry, and the results thus far attained seem to indicate that 
the first step in this direction will be the growth of Banksian pine 
on the sand ridges. These sand hills occupy approximately an area 
250 miles long (east and west), and from 50 to 70 miles across. The 
country is traversed in all directions by high hills composed of almost 
pure sand, interspersed with grassy valleys which are good grazing 
and hay lands. The hills are covered with a sparse growth of grasses 
and weeds, scarcely enough to bind the sands, which are frequently 
blown out in large areas, often making great holes a hundred yards 
in diameter in the sides of the hills. The wind and blowing sand 
make the valleys almost uninhabitable, and even were these difficul- 
ties removed the soil of the valleys is very shallow, and will not long 
bear cultivation. The experiment undertaken by the division had 
for its object the determination of what species would grow on these 
sand hills. 

Without going into details, which have been already reported, it 
may be said that of a number of species of deciduous and coniferous 
trees planted only one shows decided adaptability to this unfavorable 


locality. The Banksian pine, planted on the highest ridges in the 
heart of the sand hills four years ago, seems thus far well suited* with 
its surroundings; all the deciduous trees are dead, and only a few 
ponderosa, Scotch, Austrian, and red pines remain. The land was not 
plowed, as such a procedure would have caused it all to blow away. 
Furrows 2 feet apart were turned, and the little trees, 6 to 10 inches 
high, were planted in these furrows so as to be slightly shaded by the 
ridges formed in making them. The Banksian pines are now from 18 
inches to 4 feet high, and are each year growing more than the last. 
The sand of which the hills is composed is fine, like clean river sand, 
and during the driest seasons moisture can be found only a few inches 
below the surface. If this great area, lying almost midway between 
Texas and the British Possessions, could be covered with forest trees, 
a noticeable improvement in the climate of the plains would result. 

From the action of the other species of pine noted it is safe to infer 
that after the Banksian pines are a few feet high, and able to afford 
slight protection, other and more valuable species can be grown in 
their shade. The Douglas spruce (Pseudotsuga douglasii) has not 
stood as well as the pines in this experiment, nor is this surprising 
when the greater shade endurance of this species is recalled. It is 
reasonable to hope, however, that this valuable species can be estab- 
lished in the shade of the Banksians, and that once established it will 
serve as an excellent nurse for the more rapid-growing pines. After 
these have been cut off the- spruce will be left as the dominant trees. 

Every forest experiment in the sand hills should have as its ulti- 
mate aim an extent great enough to warrant systematic management, 
conducted on the general principles laid down in the annual report of 
the Division of Forestry for 1891. Judging by the action of the trees 
in the Nebraska sand hills experiments thus far, the following dia- 
gram illustrates what might be a safe planting scheme : 


Distance between trees, 2 feet each way. Number of trees to the 
acre, 10,840, of which 6,775 are Banksian pine, 2,710 Douglas spruce, 
and 1,355 pines of one or more of the following species: Pinus pon- 
derosa, P. sylvestris, and P. resinosa. 

The Banksian pines would only be expected to stand until the others 
were established, and could be given the start by two or three years. 


From the action of the trees in the Nebraska experiment, it would 
seem that the Douglas spruce, if used at all, should not be set until 
at least three years after the Banksians. In case the spruce is omitted 
entirely, the Banksian should be set in its place. 


With the exception of the sand hills, general suggestions may 
be made which will be applicable to the cultivation of forest trees 
throughout the plains. 

Preparation of the soil. — In the preparation of the soil too much 
importance cannot be attached to depth of plowing. The Western 
prairies, through long exposure to the action of the elements and to 
the tramping of the countless herds of buffaloes, which for centuries 
found in them a favorite pasture ground, have become far more com- 
pact than the forest-protected soils of the East. After a prolonged 
drought, such as frequently occurs, the autumn rains are not readily 
absorbed by the hard soil, and much moisture that might be saved to 
crops runs off and is lost to the fields. This is particularly true of the 
western parts of Nebraska and Kansas, and eastern Colorado. The 
same lands under deep tillage act very differently. Not only is the 
absorbing power of the soil increased by deep plowing, but the ability 
of such soil to retain moisture, under proper culture, is marked. 

Land should be gradually prepared for tree planting by increasing 
the depth of plowing during three successive years, if so much time 
can be given to the work. The usual practice in the West is to break 
the land in June or July, turning as thin a sod as possible, and laying 
it flat, for which purpose the breaking plows are well adapted. 
Sometimes, on early breaking, a crop of sod corn or flax is grown the 
same year. After one crop is removed, the land is backset, when an 
inch additional is turned. For tree planting the depth should be 
increased from 2 to 3 inches at a time, until at the end of the third 
year the land may be plowed 10 to 12 inches deep. The advantage of 
this gradual preparation is in the complete subjection of the native 
growth of grasses and other herbaceous plants. This is a most 
important point in the economic growing of trees on the plains. If 
the native growth is entirely subdued, so that no live grass roots are 
present in the soil when the trees are planted, a great deal of after- 
labor is obviated. 

One of the most obvious difficulties in the way of successfully meet- 
ing the requirements of the timber-claim law, which resulted, in spite 
of its defects, in so much good to the Western States, was the short 
time allowed between breaking the prairie sod and planting the trees. 
It was almost impossible under the methods of farming in vogue in 
the West to kill out the native vegetation in two seasons, but by 
gradually increasing the depth of plowing and by planting hoed crops 
the season preceding the setting of trees, the land can be completely 


subdued. Deep-plowed land will absorb much more of the melting 
snows and the spring rains than shallow-plowed land with the com- 
pact underclay within'a few inches of the surface. By the time the 
planting season opens, in a year of ordinary rainfall, a deep-plowed 
field will be in excellent condition to receive the trees so far as mois- 
ture is concerned. 

Thorough pulverizing of the soil is but little less essential, as a 
preparation for trees, than deep plowing. The particles of the soil 
should be fine in order that they may be brought in close contact 
with the roots of the trees, and thus supply them with moisture. If 
the field is rough and full of clods, the land will dry out rapidly. 
The thorough use of the disk harrow, clod crusher, pulverizer, and 
smoothing harrow is quite as important in preparing land for trees as 
in the preparation of a field for a crop of wheat. Not only will trees 
start more quickly when set in well-prepared soil, but the growth will 
be more uniform and strong. 

As in all other hoed or cultivated crops, it is important to keep the 
surface of the soil in fine tilth until the trees have grown sufficiently 
to shade the ground. Deep plowing and shallow cultivation should 
be the rule in all kinds of Western farming. The deep plowing gives 
a large absorptive area, and shallow cultivation places over the moist 
soil a dust blanket that acts as a most effective mulch, checking 
evaporation and thus retaining the soil-moisture for the use of the 
trees. The Western planter must keep constantly in mind the neces- 
sity of saving, by every possible means, the moisture of the soil. In 
the Eastern States, which have a well-distributed rainfall of from 30 
to 50 inches, this is a point of comparatively little consequence; but 
beyond the Mississippi its importance increases as one goes westward. 

Planting trees. — In planting trees careful alignment will save much 
labor in cultivation. It will pay to mark the land as carefully as for 
corn where groves of 10 acres or less are to be set, and to begin plant- 
ing all the rows from the same side of the field, as the slight deviation 
resulting from pressing the spade forward in planting will thus bring 
all the trees in even crossrows. Almost all seedling forest trees can 
be set with a broad dibble or spade, which is sunk blade deep at the 
cross mark, the soil pressed forward, the roots so inserted as to avoid 
turning the tip upward, and the soil pressed firmly about the collar 
with the feet, brushing a little loose dirt over the pressed places to 
prevent baking. When planting in this way, the seedlings can be car- 
ried in a pail with a little water or moist earth. In mixed planting 
it will be found most convenient to set all the trees of the prevailing 
species first, leaving the places for the kinds that are to be used 
in smaller quantity to be planted afterwards. Where two or three 
shade makers are used the same method can be followed, or each kind 
may be handled by a different planter, all working together. 

It is also desirable to take all the trees to the plat to be planted 


and heel them in where they can be easily reached. Special care 
should be taken to prevent the drying of the roots of conifers. Where 
the roots are large and fibrous, it will be found best to dig a hole for 
the trees, setting them in the same manner that orchard trees are 
planted. Care should be taken to secure perfect alignment in this 
method, as when the rows are irregular it is impossible to bring the 
cultivator close to the trees. 

Exposure of roots. — It occasionally happens in the West that dur- 
ing the early summer, or after the leaves have dropped in the fall, 
the surface soil will be blown away by the hard winds, exposing the 
roots to the drying atmosphere. To prevent this, the trees should be 
set an inch deeper than they grew in the nursery, and in autumn, 
after the leaves have fallen, a shallow furrow should be turned to the 
trees, so as to throw the dirt against the trunk. This can be done 
with the shovel attachments of the ordinary wheel hoe, which is one 
of the most useful implements that can be used in the young tree 

Cultivation. — The amount of cultivation beneficial to young trees 
can not be determined by freedom from weeds, nor by the number of 
times the operation is performed. In seasons of prolonged drought 
frequent stirring of the surface soil will be found of great benefit, as 
it will keep over the surface a layer of loose, fine earth, which will 
quite effectively check evaporation from the moist soil below. After 
rains the stirring of the surface soil will prevent the formation of a 
crust, which indicates the too rapid loss of water from the soil. Weeds 
and grass should be kept out of the trees, because they use the mois- 
ture that will be needed for tree growth. Ordinary shallow cultivation 
will be found sufficient for annual weeds — including the Russian 
thistle, sunflower, and mustard — if begun early and continued regu- 
larly, but the only way to get rid of the couch grass (Agropyrum 
repens) is to carefully dig out its underground stems and remove 
them. It is well to be on the watch for this pest, for when once 
established among trees it is almost impossible to eradicate it. 

Cultivation should cease at midsummer, in order not to encourage 
too late growth and consequent danger of winterkilling. Thereafter 
large weeds can be cut out with a hoe, or a thin crop of oats or buck- 
wheat can be sown among the trees to hold the soil during the drying 
winds of late summer and early autumn. After the leaves fall, a shal- 
low furrow turned against the trees will prevent exposure of the roots 
by the late fall and early spring winds. 

The best implement for cultivating young trees is a harrow-tooth 
culivator. The horse hoe, with its varied attachments, is useful in 
the tree plantation, as well as in the fruit and vegetable garden. 
During the first year a two-horse cultivator can be used, but it should 
always work shallow; the result, however, is not so satisfactory as 
with the finer-toothed machine. 


Two or three years, depending on distance and upon the season, 
should be sufficient for the cultivation of any carefully designed mix- 
ture of forest trees. At the beginning of the second season all blanks 
should be reset, and again the third spring. This should insure a 
full stand of trees. Thereafter the knife and pruning shears must 
take the place of the cultivator. . 

Pruning a young plantation.— In a properly designed plantation of 
forest trees very little pruning is necessary, though the temptation to 
use the knife is often great. If in passing through the plat a tree of 
upright habit is found to be forked near the ground, or to be forming 
two leaders, one of the branches should be cut away. 

If the shade-enduring trees are found to be overtopping the light- 
demanding kinds, the former must be headed in. This rule, however, 
must be used with judgment. It will often happen, as with the oaks, 
that the more valuable species is seemingly harmed by its neighbors, 
when in reality it is making strong root growth, and is none the worse 
for the temporary overtopping. 

Many trees, like the black wild cherry, form a mass of fine branches 
while young and look as though they would never make a leader and 
grow to a single trunk. These should be permitted to grow without 
pruning in thick-set plantations. As soon as their neighbors begin to 
crowd them one of the many branches will take the lead, and the plant 
will assume tree form, the many lateral branches dying off as the stem 
grows upward. 

It is no advantage to "trim up " young trees by the removal of their 
lower branches when they reach a height of from 12 to 20 feet, espe- 
cially in mixed plantations and on the prairies. The very purpose of 
close mixed planting is to force the trees to prune themselves, and 
they can be depended upon to do this as it becomes necessary. The 
lower branches aid very much in making the plantation effective as a 
wind-break. While small and weak, in the aggregate they make a 
strong barrier to the wind, and should be left for this purpose, if for 
no other. A possible exception may be named in the catalpa; but 
even in this tree the lateral branches should only be removed as they 
show signs of dying, and then only because, being persistent and not 
shed after a year or so, as with most deciduous trees, they make 
defects in the timber of the trunk. 

Thinning. — Thinning trees planted 3 by 3 feet is seldom if ever 
necessary until from five to seven years after planting; and at the 
first thinning, the removal of comparatively few trees will be advis- 
able. It may be best to head in some of these trees by clipping their 
lateral branches in the intervals between thinning, but our strong 
Western soils should be able to carry the full stand until from five to 
ten years old, and the subsequent thinnings should be at intervals of 
from seven to ten years. 


By L. O. Howard, M. S., 
Entomologist, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 

The space at command will not admit of a full treatment of the 
problem outlined in the title of this article, and the writer has there- 
fore brought together at this time some account of three species which 
are perhaps the most destructive among shade-tree insects, or which, 
at all events, have attracted the greatest attention during the past 
season. To this he has added a brief consideration of the relative 
immunity of shade trees from insect attack, and some remarks on the 

Pig. 83.— Bagworm (Thjp-idopteryx ephemerceformis). a, larva; 6, head of same; c, male pupa; 
d, female pupa; e, adult female; /, adult male— all enlarged (original). 

subject of general work against shade-tree insects in cities and towns. 
One of the most, striking features of the summer of 1895 has been 
the great abundance in many Eastern cities of several species of 
insects which attack shade trees. In almost every low-lying town 
from Charlotte, N. C, north to Albany, N". Y., the elm leaf -beetle has 
defoliated the English elms and, in many cases, the American elms. In 
certain directions this insect has also extended its northern range, 
notably up the Connecticut River Valley. The authorities in a num- 
ber of Eastern cities have taken the alarm, and active remedial work 
will be instituted during the coming season. In cities south of New 
York the bagworm has been gradually increasing for a number of 
years until it has become a serious enemy to shade and ornamental 



trees for almost the first time since 1879 or 1880 (figs. 83 and 84). 
The white-marked tussock moth, the caterpillar of which has been 
for many years the most serious of the shade-tree pests in Philadel- 
phia, New York, Brooklyn, and Boston, in 1895, for the first time 
within the recollection of the writer appeared in such numbers as 
to become of great importance in more southern cities, as Baltimore 
and Washington. The fall webworm (figs. 91, 92, and 93) was more 
abundant in Washington and the- surrounding country than it has 
been since the summer of 1886. 

These four insects are the principal shade-tree defoliators in the 
Eastern States, if we except the imported gypsy moth, which is at 
present fortunately confined to the immediate vicinity of Boston, and 

is being cared for by 
a thoroughly capable 
State commission. 
While the summer of 
1895 may with justice 
be called an excep- 
tional one as regards 
the great increase of 
numbers, yet these in- 
sects are always pres- 
ent and do a certain 
amount of damage 
each season, and when 
an exceptional season 
comes, as it did this 
year, city authorities 
seldom find them- 
selves prepared to en- 
gage in an intelligent 
and comprehensive 
In cities farther west other leaf-feeders take the place of those just 
mentioned. The principal ones are, perhaps, the oak Edema, the Cot- 
tonwood leaf -beetle, and the green-striped maple worm. 

Several scale insects or bark lice are occasionally serious enemies 
to shade trees. Maples suffer especially from their attacks. The 
cottony maple scale is found everywhere on all varieties of maple, 
and occasionally in excessive abundance. The cottony maple-leaf 
scale, a species imported from Europe, is rapidly gaining in impor- 
tance, and in several New England towns it has, during the past 
season, seriously reduced the vitality of many trees. The so-called 
"gloomy scale" has long been on the increase in Washington, D. C, 
and every year it kills large branches and even entire trees of the silver 
maples, which are so extensively grown along the streets of that city. 


Si.— Bagworm at (a, b, c) successive stages of growth, 
c, male bag ; d, female bag— natural size (original). 


Certain borers are also occasionally destructive to many shade trees, 
and, in fact, in the northern tier of States, these are the most important 
of the shade-tree enemies, the principal leaf feeders being either 
absent or becoming single brooded. Where absent their places are 
taken by less destructive species. 

In fact, it is safe to say that shade trees suffer especially from insect 
attack throughout the region of country which is contained in the 
Upper Austral life zone. 1 

Concerning the borers, it may be briefly said that these insects 
rarely attack vigorous and healthy trees, but should a shade tree lose 
its health through the attacks of scale insects, through rapid defolia- 
tion by leaf feeders, or through a leaky gas main or sewer pipe,' dif- 
ferent species of borers will at once attack and destroy it. There is 
one particular exception to this rule, and that is the European leopard 
moth, a most destructive species, which is at present of very limited 
range and confined to the immediate vicinity of New York City. ~No 
certain information is at hand which indicates that it has spread for 
more than 50 miles from the center of introduction. This insect 
attacks healthy trees, boring into the trunks of the younger ones, and 
into the branches and smaller limbs of many shade and fruit trees. 
It is an extremely difficult species to fight, and it is fortunate that its 
spread is not more rapid. 

(Oalerueella luteola Mull.) 

Original home and present distribution. — The imported elm leaf- 
beetle (fig. 85) is a native of southern Europe and the Mediterranean 
islands. It is abundant and destructive in the southern parts of France 
and Germany, and in Italy and Austria. This beetle is found, though 
rarely, in England, Sweden, and north Germany, and gradually be- 
comes less numerous and destructive toward the north. In middle 
Germany it is common, though not especially destructive. As early 
as 1837 it was imported into the United States at Baltimore, and is 
now found as far south as Charlotte, N. C. From this point it ranges 
northward in the Atlantic cities as far as Providence, R. I. Inland 
it has not passed the barrier of the Appalachian chain of mountains, 
and is practically confined to the Upper Austral region, as indicated 
in the map on page 210 of the Yearbook for 1894. Thus, up the 
Hudson River it has spread to Albany, N". Y. , but on either side of the 
river, as the land rises into the foothills, it has stopped. In the same 
way it has more recently spread up the Connecticut River Valley to 
a point north of the New Hampshire State line, and also, to a less 
extent, up the Housatonic Valley. From our present knowledge it 

■Briefly defined by Dr. Merriam in his summary article on "The geographic 
distribution of animals and plants in North America," in the Yearbook of this 
Department for 1894, page 203. 


seems likely that its future spread as an especially destructive spe- 
cies will be limited by the northern border of the Upper Austral region, 
and that (as may happen at any time) should it once be carried by 
railway train across the southern extension of the Transition life 
zone, caused by the Alleghany and Blue Ridge mountains, it will 
spread unchecked through Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and 
other Western States. 1 

Food plants. — No food plants other than elms are known. The 
common English elm (Ulmus campestris) is its favorite food, and 
the gardener's variety, the so-called Camperdown, or weeping elm, 
is attacked with equal avidity. The American, or white, elm ( U. 
americana) ranks next among the favored species, with U. rnontana, 
U. suberosa, U. flava, IT. racemosa, and XT. alata in about the order 
named. No variety seems absolutely exempt. In the presence of 
XT. campestris other elms are seldom seriously injured. Where cam- 
pestris is absent, or where a single tree of campestris is surrounded by 
many American elms, the latter become seriously attacked. 2 

Life history and habits. — The elm leaf -bee tie passes the winter in 
the adult, or beetle, condition in cracks in fences or telegraph poles, 
under the loose bark of trees, inside window blinds in unoccupied 
houses, in barns, and, in fact, wherever it can secure shelter. As soon 
as the buds of the trees begin to swell in the spring the beetles issue 
from their winter quarters and mate, and as soon as the buds burst 
they begin to feed upon the leaflets. 

This feeding is continued by the beetles until the leaves are fairly 
well grown, and during the latter part of this feeding period the 
females are engaged in laying their eggs. The eggs (fig. 85, c) are 
placed on the lower sides of the leaves, in vertical clusters of 5 to 20 
or more, arranged in two or three irregular rows. They are elongate 
oval in shape, tapering to a rather obtuse point, orange yellow in 
color, and the surface is covered with beautiful hexagonal reticula- 
tions. These reticulations, however, can be seen only with a high 
magnifying power. 

The egg state lasts about a week. The larvae (fig. 85, d) as soon as 
hatched feed on the under surface of the leaf, gradually skeletonizing 
it. They reach full growth in from fifteen to twenty days, and then 
either crawl down the trunk of the tree to the surface of the ground or 
drop from the extremities of overhanging branches. At the surface of 
the ground they transform to naked, light orange-colored pupae (fig. 
85, g), a little over a quarter of an inch in length, and in this stage 
they remain for from six to ten days, at the expiration of that time 

1 Since this was written the writer has learned that this passage of the Blue 
Ridge barrier has actually taken place during the past season. Mr. A. D. Hopkins, 
of the West Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, has found that this insect 
has established itself at Elmgrove, in Ohio County, and at Wellsburg, in Brooke 
County, W.Va. 

2 The beetles rarely oviposit upon Zelcova carpiniafolia and Z. acuminata on the 
Department grounds at Washington. 



Fig. 85. —The imported elm leaf -beetle {Galerucella luteola). ' o, foliage of European elm show- 
ing method of work of beetle and larva— natural size; 6, adult beetle; c, egg mass; d, young 
larva; e, full-grown larva; g, pupa— all greatly enlarged; /, mouth parts of full-grown larva- 
still more enlarged (original). 


transforming to beetles. The pupae will frequently be found collected 
in masses at the surface of the ground in this way. On very large 
trees with shaggy bark many larvae will transform to pupae under the 
bark scales, or on trees of the largest size they may descend the main 
branches to the crotch and transform unprotected in the hollow of the 

The larva is elongate, reaching when full grown (fig. 85, e) half an 
inch in length. When first hatched it is nearly black ; as it increases 
in size it becomes, with each shedding of the skin, more distinctly 
marked with yellow, and when mature the yellow predominates, 
occurring as a broad dorsal stripe and two lateral stripes. 

The difference between the early work of the beetles and the later 
work of the larvae is recognized at a glance. The beetles eat entirely 
through the leaves and make complete, irregular holes, while the 
larvae simply eat the parenchyma from below, skeletonizing the leaf. 

The time occupied in egg laying is long, and it thus happens that 
at the time when full-grown larvae, and even pupae, are to be found 
there are also upon the leaves freshly laid eggs. 

In Washington there are invariably two generations annually, the 
beetles developed from the eggs laid by the overwintered beetles 
themselves laying their eggs in July. The adults issuing from these 
eggs make their appearance in August. Farther north, at New Bruns- 
wick, N". J., and in the Connecticut cities, it may be said that there is 
normally a complete first generation and an incomplete second gener- 

The proper food of the larvae is the rather young and tender leaves. 
If the work of the first generation has not been complete, and the 
trees have not been so nearly defoliated as to necessitate the sending 
out of fresh leaves, or if a period of drought ensues after defoliation 
and prevents the putting out of a second crop of leaves, the beetles 
of the first generation do not lay eggs, but after flying about for a 
time seek winter quarters. This may occur as early as the middle of 
July. Where, however, defoliation has been complete and has been 
followed by a period of sufficient moisture to enable a tree to put 
out a fresh crop of leaves, the beetles of the first generation will lay 
their eggs and a second generation of larvae will develop upon this 
comparatively tender foliage. Where similar conditions prevail in 
Washington and its vicinity, a third generation of larvae may de- 
velop, though small in numbers, but the writer is convinced that 
even in Washington late-developing beetles of the first generation 
may hibernate. 

Remedies. — The only thoroughly satisfactory safeguard against 
this insect consists in spraying the trees with an arsenical solution. 
The only other remedy which is worthy of mention is the destruction 
of the larvae at the surface of the ground before or after they transform 
to pupae. The latter remedy, however, is not complete, and even 


where it is carefully carried out for every tree in a city it will do no 
more than reduce the numbers of the insects by perhaps two-thirds. 

Ten years ago a proposal to spray the enormous elms which are to 
be found in many northern towns wo*uld have been received with 
ridicule, but of recent years the practicability of the plan has so fre- 
quently been demonstrated that there is no hesitancy in commending 
it to more general city use. Probably the largest elm tree in America, 
the Dexter elm, at Medford, Mass., has been successfully and eco- 
nomically sprayed by the Gypsy Moth Commission. It is necessary 
to have especial apparatus constructed, and it is equally necessary to 
have the work done by men who are accustomed to it or at least are 
good climbers. The first successful work of this kind was probably 
that done by Prof. John B. Smith on the campus of Rutgers College. 
He had a strong barrel pump, and carried -the nozzle at the end of a 
long rubber tube, with a bamboo extension pole, up into the center 
of the trees by climbing a ladder to the main crotch. Prom this 
point the spray was thrown in all directions, and the tree was 
thoroughly coated with the mixture in a minimum of time. 

The Gypsy Moth Commission, in their earlier spraying work, sent 
their large tank carts through the streets, stopping at each tree and 
sending one or more men with hose and extension poles into it, thus 
covering hundreds of large trees in a single day. If steam sprayers 
are used (and the town or city fire engines can be and have been 
used to excellent advantage in this way), the necessity for climbing 
the trees may be largely avoided. By means of multiple discharge 
hose both sides of a tree, or even of two trees, may be sprayed at 
once, and the extent of territory that may be covered in a day is 
surprising. The elm trees in a small park may be treated economic- 
ally and without much difficulty by two or three men with a hand- 
cart tank. This method has been adopted on the large grounds of 
the Department of Agriculture with absolute success. 

The writer's experience at Washington leads to the conclusion that 
it is important to spray trees once just after the buds have